YPSILANTI, Mich. — Winning conference games on the road is never easy, and the University of Toledo football team saw that first hand at Eastern Michigan on Saturday. The Rockets started slowly, but a big second half propelled them to a 35-20 win over the Eagles at Rynearson Stadium.
“It’s great to start off 1-0 in the MAC,” UT quarterback Logan Woodside said. “Especially going on the road first game in the MAC West is tough anywhere you play, so it was good to get a win.”
Woodside finished the game 25-of-31 passing for 247 yards and four touchdowns.
He found Jon’Vea Johnson on a 17-yard TD pass, Cody Thompson on a 63-yard TD, Michael Roberts on a 15-yard TD, and Corey Jones on a 12-yard TD.
UT NOTEBOOK: Thompson again makes big-play receptions for Rockets
IN PICTURES: Toledo 35, Eastern Michigan 20
“He was very poised and very composed, what the quarterback should be,” UT coach Jason Candle said of Woodside. “He did a great job of managing the offense.
“Twenty-five of 31, that’s playing football now. The incompletions were balls down the field on a windy day.”
Toledo moves to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the MAC, while Eastern Michigan drops to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the MAC.
Kareem Hunt rushed 29 times for 148 yards and a touchdown for Toledo, while Terry Swanson had 72 yards on 15 carries.
“I just saw a whole lot of guys up front blocking hard,” Hunt said. “That helps me play harder. They give it their all, and I give it my all every single game.”
St. John’s Jesuit graduate Brogan Roback led Eastern Michigan with 255 yards and a touchdown on 20-for-38 passing. Breck Turner led the ground game for the Eagles with 24 yards and a touchdown.
After a scoreless first quarter, Toledo opened the scoring when Woodside threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 8:24 left in the second quarter.
Paul Fricano kicked a 34-yard field goal just before halftime to put Eastern Michigan on the board.
The Rockets’ defense held Eastern Michigan to just four first downs and 102 yards of total offense in the first half.
“I think we did pretty good defensively,” safety DeJuan Rogers said. “We just have to keep pushing and stay on our assignments and just keep grinding it out in the MAC.”
Fricano kicked a 44-yard field goal to cap a 13-play, 52-yard drive on the opening possession of the second half, and EMU cut the Toledo lead to 7-6.
Woodside then hit Thompson on a 63-yard TD pass down the sidelines to give Toledo a 14-6 lead with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
Eastern Michigan fumbled the ensuing kickoff and UT recovered at the EMU 16-yard line. Then, Kareem Hunt ran in from 2 yards out to give UT the 21-6 edge with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
“We got a good spark in the third quarter going down and getting a touchdown there driving the ball into the wind and getting a score,” Candle said. “And then turning back around they had a mishap on the kickoff and we ended up jumping on the ball, which led to another score. That kind of got us a little breathing room.”
Turner rushed in from three yards out to cut the UT lead to 21-13 with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
Woodside then hit tight end Roberts for a 15-yard TD, giving UT a 28-13 lead with 10:52 left in the game.
Eastern Michigan answered when Roback found Antoine Porter on a 5-yard TD pass, cutting the UT lead to 28-20 with 8:43 left.
Woodside then found Jones on a 12-yard TD pass to ice the game and give UT a 35-20 lead with 2:37 left.
Rogers intercepted a Roback pass late in the game to ensure the win.
“It was definitely great to seal the win,” Rogers said. “I had all the guys happy for me. Thanks to Marc [Remy], he tipped it. I’m just glad to get the win today.”
Candle was impressed with the way Eastern Michigan played.
“That’s an improving football team, and they are improving fast,” Candle said. “Their record is what it is because they won four football games. Coach [Chris] Creighton has done a good job of getting a culture created, and they’re going to be a contender soon and people are going to have deal with them for 60 minutes like we had to today.”
Toledo was able to escape from Ypsilanti with their first win in the MAC, something Hunt said they didn’t take for granted.
“It’s very tough,” Hunt said of winning on the road in the MAC. “Every team is going to give us their best shot. We have a target on our backs, and we’re going to come out and give it our all. We’re ready to accept the challenge.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.
UT quarterback Logan Woodside throws a short pass to wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson during the Rockets’ victory over Eastern Michigan. THE BLADE/NICK THOMAS