UM's Thomas turns speed into 'spark' on 99-yard kickoff return

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan's Ambry Thomas (1) races for the end zone on a 99-yard kickoff return.

South Bend, Ind. — There weren’t many highlights for Michigan in its season-opening loss to Notre Dame, but Ambry Thomas delivered a boost late in the first half.

Thomas returned a kickoff 99 yards for the Wolverines’ first touchdown in the 24-17 loss Saturday night. It was Michigan’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Jehu Chesson went 96 yards for a score in 2015.

Thomas scored with 3:41 left in the first half to pull the Wolverines within 21-10.

“Honestly, it was our whole special team unit. They all did their job,” Thomas said. “With the first return, we set it up and that one hit pretty good. We thought, ‘OK, we’re about to come back.’

“I knew once I got going — really going — nobody was going to catch me. Our philosophy is, see a little, see a lot, and that’s what I did. I saw a little bit and once I got open, I seen a lot and just ran.”

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Thomas’ return gave the team a much-needed boost.

“He was able to break some arm tackles and showed some real bursts when he got in the open field,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He was able to finish that off and gave us a great spark.”

Thomas said once he got through, he knew he couldn’t be stopped.

“When I broke the first arm tackle, I felt like I was off to the races. And the second one, I didn’t even really see him so it didn’t budge me that much,” Thomas said. “I just knew I was gone.”