- File Photo/Daily
BY BILL BULLARD
Daily Sports Editor
Published September 6, 2012
On Sept. 29, 1964, the Michigan football team opened its season at Michigan Stadium against Air Force.
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It was the Wolverines’ first and only meeting with the Falcons until this Saturday, when the two teams face off again at the Big House.
This is the Daily’s game story from Michigan’s 24-7 victory on that day in 1964:
Bump Elliott’s Wolverines used a combined arsenal of rushing and passing yesterday to overpower a spunky Air Force squad which could move only through the air in the season opener for Michigan here yesterday. The score was 24-7.
Quarterback Bob Timberlake set the tone for the game as he guided the Wolverines into the end zone the first time they got their hands on the ball. He also engineered two 80-yard drives culminating in touchdowns during the second and third quarters.
And to top off a very successful afternoon for the senior signal-caller who had been a doubtful starter last week, Timberlake booted a field goal from the Falcon 16-yard line just before the half ended to give the Wolverines a 17-7 halftime margin.
Rival Coach Ben Martin whose team had defeated Washington 3-2 last Saturday, praised the Wolverines afterwards for posing a dangerous double-threat. “The Wolverines have a quarterback who can throw the ball,” he observed. “But when he couldn’t get rid of it, he kept the ball and still gained yardage by running.”
At the same time, he lamented the Air Force failure to win by a massive air attack.
“We intended to pass quite a bit, although not as much as we actually did. We have players who can throw and catch and we expected that Michigan’s defense against passing would be weaker than its running defense.”
Complete 15 of 21
The Air Force completed 15 of 21 passes in the first half but only eight of 19 in the second half as the Michigan secondary tightened up somewhat.
Michigan rolled up 311 yards rushing and 91 yards passing. Coach Bump Elliot commented that he thought the whole team played well for the first game of the season.
“I was especially pleased with the way our sophomores came through,” he added. Elliott started sophs Carl Ward at right halfback and Jim Detwiler at left halfback. Detwiler was subbing for junior John Rowser, out of action with a leg injury.
Ward and Detwiler picked up 51 and 72 yards rushing, respectively. But the team’s rushing leaders were Timberlake with 80 yards and senior fullback Mel Anthony with 79 yards on the ground. Sophomore fullback Dave Fisher made it into the game in the fourth quarter and picked up 28 yards on six carries.
Elliott said, “I think the game was in doubt until the third quarter, when Timberlake on a third down pass play ran to get the first down by a yard.”
The Wolverines had taken over on their own 20-yard line after Bart Holaday was wide on a field goal from the Michigan 16-yard line. The Wolverine offense moved to the 45-yard line before it seemingly stalled. But on a third down and 30 yards to go situation, Timberlake couldn’t find a receiver open and ran up the middle of the field to the Air Force 24-yard line, just making the first down by a yard.
Anthony Gets First
Three plays later Anthony gained a first down on the 14-yard line on a fourth down and one yard to go situation. Anthony picked up four more yards on the next play. Detwiler then started to sweep around right end, cut inside the end, and when hit by opposing tacklers about the four-yard line simply bulled his way into the end zone.
This score and Timberlake’s conversion put Michigan on top 24-7. Both teams threatened in the final quarter but neither scored.
Michigan moved in for the first score of the season after the third play of the game when Falcon halfback Paul Wargo fumbled and senior left tackle Arnie Simkus recovered on the Air Force 35-yard line. It took the Wolverines eight plays to chalk up the seven points.
Michigan’s middle touchdown came after a close call on defense. Junior linebacker Tom Cecchini had temporarily halted a Falcon drive by recovering Wargo’s fumble on the Michigan 15-yard line.
But two plays later Timberlake passed to Henderson at the 28-yard line and Henderson, trying to outflank a Falcon defender and escape down the left sidelines, fumbled the ball.