Michigan barely escapes Akron upset

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 14, 2013
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 Akron on Saturday. 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. Barely. The Wolverines (3-0) trailed twice in the second half -- including with 4:10 left when Kyle 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. Pohl was pressured and hit by Brennen Beyer on the final play, leading to an incomplete pass in the end zone as time expired on fourth down. Akron was very close to going ahead in the final minute, but 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. 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 33-21 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. 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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