Michigan barely held off Akron in a 28-24 victory on Saturday following its 41-30 win against Notre Dame last week,
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Wolverines (3-0) were 16-0 at home under Michigan coach Brady Hoke, but the 17th win proved to be more of a challenge than anticipated.
With just 2:49 remaining in the game, Zips (1-2) quarterback Kyle Phol marched Akron down the field, calling timeout at the Michigan 4-yard line with just four seconds remaining. Phol’s ensuing pass sailed just high off the hands of Zach D’Orazlo in the back of the end zone as time expired, leaving an Akron comeback bid just short.
Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner opened up the game with a perfect 5-for-5 drive, hitting wide receiver Devin Funches for a 48-yard touchdown reception capping off a tone-setting 77-yard drive
But Zips kicker Robert Stein drilled a 45-yard field goal towards the end of the first quarter to cut the Michigan lead to 7-3, a surprisingly close score that would hold until halftime.
Both teams traded touchdown drives to open the second half before Gardner produced consecutive touchdown scoring drives, lengthening the Wolverine lead to 21-10.
The momentum swung to Akron in the fourth when Justin March intercepted Gardner’s pass, taking it 27-yards for the score. The Zips regained the lead just a few possessions later when Phol found Tyrell Goodman in the end zone from just a yard out.
Once again Gardner was the man of the hour, completing a 35-yard and 20-yard pass on back-to-back plays to march Michigan right down the field. A pass interference penalty set up Fitzgerald Toussaint for a 2-yard touchdown run, putting the Wolverines back on top with the eventual final score, 28-24.
Big second half lifts NIU
Northern Illinois avoided a major upset against Idaho, storming back in the second half to win 45-35.
The Huskies (2-0) outscored the Vandals (0-3) 24-7 in the final two quarters, avoiding a scare for the reigning Mid-American Conference champions. Much of the Northern Illinois comeback was aided by the help of Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Lynch did it all for the Huskies, throwing for 152 yards and running for another 159 in a five touchdown performance.
Both Northern Illinois and Idaho exchanged punches in the first half, as each team scored in bunches.
Vandals quarterback Chad Chalich scored both of his touchdowns in the first half in a 240-yard performance. The Huskies couldn’t stop the offensive surge from the Vandals and found themselves down 28-21 going into the locker room.
Northern Illinois’ offense was clicking in the second half, as Lynch threw for two touchdowns and busted open a big 61-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.
Huskies kicker Matthew Sims lengthened the lead in the fourth, drilling a 51-yard field goal.
Northern Illinois will look to stay unbeaten next week as it hosts undefeated in-state rival Eastern Illinois.
Ohio edges Marshall
Despite being virtually one dimensional on offense, Ohio topped Marshall 34-31 in the annual Battle for the Bell rivalry game.
Although the Bobcats (2-1) put up 275 yards through the air, only 60 yards were picked up on the ground amongst five different ball carriers. The Thundering Herd (2-1) put up 116 yards on the ground. However, not one player gained more than 35 yards.
Marshall still had chances to tie it late despite a four-turnover performance, but an Ohio interception by cornerback Devin Bass halted any Thundering Herd momentum in the second half.
Ohio will host Austin Peay next weekend in their final non-conference game of the season.
Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.