Denard Robinson accounted for 345 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 20 Michigan overcome its poor defense in a 42-37 win over second-tier Massachusetts on Saturday.
Robinson was 10 of 14 for 241 yards, connected with Darryl Stonum for TDs 45 seconds apart late in the first half and had an interception. He ran 17 times for 104 yards and a score that put the Wolverines (3-0) ahead 35-17 midway through the third quarter.
The Minutemen (2-1) scored to get within five points with 2:05 left, but their onside kick went out of bounds and Michigan ran out the clock, avoiding another embarrassing upset by a Championship Subdivision team.
The FCS team led by 10 early and had a chance to stun college football’s winningest team just as Appalachian State did three years ago.
Michigan’s Michael Shaw had career highs with 126 yards rushing and three TDs.
The Wolverines needed to another great day on offense to avoid a setback that would’ve stunted their momentum after opening with wins against Connecticut and at Notre Dame — a start that earned them a place in The Associated Press Top 25.
Kyle Havens was 22 of 29 for 222 yards — often throwing to wide-open teammates — and had two TDs and an interception for UMass, which gave the ball to Jonathan Hernandez for 114 yards rushing and two scores.
Michigan’s kicking game was as shaky as its defense.
Seth Broekhuizen, who beat out Brendan Gibbons during a wide-open competition to kick field goals, missed a 38-yard kick that could’ve made it 10-all in the second quarter.
Michigan had a punt blocked late in the game, giving UMass comeback hopes, and the Wolverines struggled to soundly return punts.
But they held off the Minutemen and improved to 2-1 against FCS teams. They also avoided joining their 2007 team that lost to Appalachian State and this year’s Virginia Tech — beaten by James Madison earlier in the month — as ranked teams to lose to lower-tier foes.
They can thank Robinson, again, and Shaw — who gave defenders somebody other than the quarterback to focus on for a change.
Robinson threw an interception on his first throw — the first turnover for Michigan this season — but bounced back with a series of throws and runs that will add to his highlight reel.
He threw a short slant that Stonum turned into a 66-yard touchdown and a 9-yard pass to him to put the Wolverines ahead 21-17 with 16 seconds left in the first half.
Robinson was asked to run less often than he was the first two games — when he averaged 28 1/2 carries — thought he had to play the entire game because Michigan’s defense couldn’t put UMass away.
There were moments of silence before the game for UMass band director George Parks and former Michigan star Ron Kramer.