ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan held its own last week against a traditional college football power. This week, it struggled to keep pace with a mid-major opponent that has won four games in the past four seasons.
Michigan's defense, which had trouble containing the Akron offense all game, stopped the Zips on the final play to secure a 28-24 win and avoid the upset Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
From Michigan's 4-yard line on fourth-and-goal, quarterback Kyle Pohl's off-balance pass fell out of reach of his receiver in the end zone.
Michigan regained the lead on Fitzgerald Toussaint's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:49 left, answering Tyrell Goodman's 1-yard touchdown catch with less than five minutes left in fourth that put the Zips in prime position to upset No. 11 Michigan.
In a back-and-forth afternoon, the Zips intercepted Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner three times and gained 418 yards against the Wolverines (3-0), who struggled to separate themselves from the Zips (1-3).
Devin Funchess gave Michigan a 7-0 lead on a 48-yard touchdown catch, and Robert Stein's 45-yard field goal for Akron cut Michigan's lead to 7-3 with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
The Zips were unable to take advantage of field position after starting at Michigan's 31-yard line, the result of a sloppy punt by Wolverines kicker Matt Wile.
Gardner committed a pair of turnovers on successive drives in the second, first fumbling the ball and then getting intercepted by cornerback DeAndre Scott, which set up the Zips at their 25.
Nine plays later, Stein's 45-yard field goal attempt banked off the left upright and Michigan held onto a 7-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Justin March intercepted Gardner's pass and set up the Zips at the Wolverines' 38. But Stein's third field goal attempt failed, allowing Michigan to take the 7-3 lead into halftime.
Five minutes into the third quarter, though, Pohl capped a methodical 10-play drive by connecting with Zach D'Orazio for a 28-yard touchdown, finally giving Akron the lead, 10-7.
Two minutes later, Gardner's 36-yard touchdown run gave the lead back to Michigan, and with less than four minutes left in the third, Gardner connected with Jehu Chesson for a 33-yard touchdown that gave the Wolverines a 21-10 lead.
Justin March returned his second interception of Gardner 27 yards for touchdown to cut Michigan's lead to 21-17 in the fourth and, with Akron on Michigan's 2 on the ensuing drive, safety Jarrod Wilson intercepted Pohl to end Akron's best chance to take its first lead.
NOTES: Saturday's game was the first meeting between the Wolverines and the Zips. ... Michigan honored former offensive linemen Jeff Backus and Steve Hutchinson during the first quarter. ... Gibbons missed his first field goal attempt after a stretch of 16 straight successful kicks. ... Chesson scored his first collegiate touchdown.