ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Akron almost pulled off an upset for the ages.
Fitzgerald Toussaint scored a go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown with 2:49 left and No. 11 Michigan made a desperately needed stop on the final play to hold on for a 28-24 victory over the Zips on Saturday.
On the third straight snap inside the Wolverines 5, Kyle Pohl was hurried and hit by Brennen Beyer and that led to an incomplete pass in the end zone as time expired.
"I just needed a half-second more to make that throw," Pohl said.
Pohl also needed to find a teammate in the end zone — not safety Jarrod Wilson — on an interception early in the fourth quarter from the Michigan 2. It would have also helped if Robert Stein made two long field goals late in the first half that would have put the Zips ahead.
"I've been fortunate to have some big wins in my career, but that would've been the biggest," said Akron coach Terry Bowden, who went 11-0 two decades ago at Auburn. "I'm sorry for our players. They worked so hard and been through so much, but I told them they had the chance to play the game of a lifetime and they did and they played the game of a lifetime.
"I'm sure down the road in their lives they'll look back and cherish that more than the misery they're in right now."
College football's winningest program avoided getting upset at home — as it did against Appalachian State and Toledo — by a Mid-American Conference team that hasn't won a road game in nearly five years and was expected to lose by more than five touchdowns.
The Wolverines (3-0) trailed twice in the second half — including with 4:10 left when Pohl threw a 1-yard TD — and allowed the Zips (1-2) to get to the Michigan 4 on the final drive of the game.
Before the final snap, Akron was very close to going ahead in the final minute.
Wide receiver Jerrod Dillard couldn't come down with a high pass that went through his hands in the end zone, and receiver L.T. Smith was stopped at the 2 by two defenders.
"Give Akron a lot of credit," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "Their kids came in here like most Mid-American Conference schools are going to come in here, to win the football game."
Michigan won its 17th straight at home for the longest streak among BCS-conference teams and its best since winning the same number in a row from 1976-78.
Akron has lost 28 straight road games, the longest skid for visitors in the top tier of college football since Kansas State dropped 30 in a row from Nov. 9, 1985 to Nov. 2, 1991, according to STATS LLC.
The Wolverines said the right things about respecting and focusing on Akron after beating rival Notre Dame in front of an NCAA-record crowd last weekend, but they didn't look like they prepared very well and failed to make adjustments during the game.
And, Devin Gardner led the way.
Gardner had turnovers on three straight drives late in the first half and the last two set up Akron for field goal attempts — both of which were missed — as Michigan had a tenuous 7-3 lead at halftime.
The quarterback, who accounted for five TDs in the 41-30 win over the Fighting Irish, threw a career-high third interception in the fourth quarter that was returned 27 yards by linebacker Justin March to let the Zips pull within four points.
"We almost lost to Akron, no disrespect to Akron," Gardner said.
After Michigan picked up only one first down on the next two drives, Pohl gave Akron a 24-21 lead on a pass to Tyrell Goodman.
The Big House, which was eerily quiet for much of the afternoon when fans weren't booing, erupted in a collective cheer when Toussaint's plunge put Michigan up 28-24.
It got quiet again as Akron picked apart Michigan's defense, which failed to pressure Pohl very often, before the maize-and-blue clad followers were able to exhale when the clocks had zeroes and the football was on the turf.
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