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September 8, 2013After the Wolverines opened a three-point lead with a field goal on their first drive, fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon took a routine catch and turned it into a highlight-reel moment.
Catching the ball in the middle of the field, Gallon simultaneously ran into two defenders, and every one of the 115,109 fans in attendance assumed he'd fall to the turf. Gallon miraculously stayed on his feet, twisting out of the two defenders' reaches and raced off for an electric 61-yard touchdown.
"It was a dig, and it was a cover-two coverage," Gallon explained. "I was just coming down and Devin hit me. I was looking to get up field, and they went to strip the ball. He spun me around, and I just started running. I saw [redshirt freshman receiver] Jehu Chesson come up and lay a block on somebody, and I just ran in for the touchdown."
That was just the beginning of Gallon's career night.
The 5-8, 184 receiver finished with eight catches for career-highs in yards (184) and touchdowns (three), leading the Wolverines to a rousing 41-30 victory over Notre Dame in the second night game in Michigan Stadium history. He scored on passes of 61, 13 and 12 yards.
Gallon's 184 yards is tied for the sixth-highest single-game receiving total in program history. Roy Roundtree (2009-12) holds the Michigan record, with 246 receiving yards against Illinois in 2010. Gallon's three touchdowns are tied for second most in single-season program history, behind Derrick Alexander, who caught four touchdown passes against Minnesota in 1992.
"Gallon's like a little bulldog, man," redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner said. "We work so hard, ever since I got here. You guys are just now seeing it, but behind the doors, we've been working so hard. We're finally getting the opportunity to display it, in front of the biggest crowd in college football."
The two have built an incredible rapport on the field. In Gardner's seven career starts (the final five games of the 2012 season and the first two this year), they have hooked up for 43 receptions, 742 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging out to six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown per game.
In those seven games, Gallon has amassed over 130 receiving yards three times, with five catches for 133 yards against Iowa in 2012, nine catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in last season's Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina and Saturday night against the Fighting Irish.
And the duo's connection was highlighted in primetime for the world to see Saturday night.
Against the Irish, Gallon accounted for 62.6 percent of Gardner's 294 total passing yards - and 43.0 percent of the Wolverines' 460 total yards of offense (in addition to his 184 receiving yards, Gallon also picked up 14 rushing yards on a reverse in the first quarter, finishing the game with 198 total yards).
"I could never imagine me doing something like this," Gallon said, reflecting on his big night. "I just imagine myself coming out and playing for the team, playing my role as a teammate and as a leader and as a senior on this team. In a game this big, it's not me. It's the rest of the offense. I can't take all the credit. It goes to my teammates as well."
Gallon either moved the chains or scored a touchdown on seven of his nine touches in the game. One of the two touches that didn't was a 13-yard snag on a second and 23 that helped put Michigan in position for fifth-year senior placekicker Brendan Gibbons to knock through a 38-yard field goal.
"He's a very, very tough kid," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "As well as he catches the ball, finds the seams and creases, he blocks. When he blocks, he gets on people. Catching the ball. Is it important for him, probably, but he loves to block. How he comes to work every day, because he does come to work every day, and how he competes are his strengths."