ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for the go-ahead score with 2:49 left and No. 11 Michigan stopped Akron on the final play to win 28-24 on Saturday.
The Wolverines avoided being upset at home by a team with three consecutive one-win seasons and hasn't won a road game since Oct. 18, 2008.
"This is embarrassing for the University of Michigan football team," offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said.
The Wolverines trailed twice during the second half, including with 4:10 left after Kyle Pohl threw a 1-yard touchdown pass. After Toussaint's 2-yard run put Michigan ahead again, Akron twice came close to touchdowns. First, Jerrod Dillard couldn't come down with a high pass in the end zone. On the next play, L.T. Smith caught a pass but was stopped at the 2 by James Ross and Desmond Morgan.
On the third consecutive snap from inside the 5, Pohl was hurried and hit by Brennen Beyer, and his pass fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.
"I've been fortunate to have some big wins in my career, but that would've been the biggest," said Akron coach Terry Bowden, the son of longtime Florida State coach Bobby Bowden who went 11-0 at Auburn in 1993. "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 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."
The Wolverines said all of the right things about respecting and focusing on Akron after beating archrival Notre Dame last week. And Akron had lost 27 straight road games, the most in Division I-A since Kansas State's 30 from Nov. 9, 1985, to Nov. 2, 1991.
But Michigan didn't look prepared and failed to make adjustments. Quarterback Devin Gardner had a lot to do with that. He threw a career-high three interceptions and fumbled once.
Gardner ran for a 36-yard score and threw a 33-yarder to Jehu Chesson in the third quarter to put Michigan up 21-10 but was 16-of-30 for 248 yards. He committed turnovers on three consecutive series in the first half. Akron couldn't take advantage, throwing an interception and missing field goals of 45 and 55 yards.
Finally, Justin March returned Gardner's third interception 27 yards for a touchdown that cut Michigan's lead to 21-17.
"We almost lost to Akron. No disrespect to Akron," Gardner said. "I made a lot of bad decisions; probably my worst game ever."
After Michigan went three-and-out, Pohl drove the Zips to the Wolverines 2. But Jarrod Wilson intercepted a pass in the end zone. Akron held on the ensuing series then took the lead.
"Yes, we won the game," Lewan said with a touch of sarcasm.
"We're 3-0. That's great. It was embarrassing."