Needing one more scoring drive to knock off rival Bowling Green for the seventh straight time in the Battle of I-75 game, the University of Toledo football team marched confidently down the field for the game winning score.
UT senior running back Kareem Hunt punched the ball in from three yards out with 18 seconds left and Toledo held on for a 42-35 victory in front of a sellout crowd at the Glass Bowl on Saturday.
The run by Hunt capped a seven-play, 66-yard drive that spanned 2 minutes and 55 seconds and won the game for the Rockets (5-1, 2-0 MAC).
IN PICTURES: Toledo 42, Bowling Green 35
“We just tried to stay poised and just go out there and execute,” UT junior quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We knew we had to go down and get some type of score and it was good to go down there and have Kareem punch one in.”
Toledo had a 35-21 lead with 10:25 left in the game, but Bowling Green (1-6, 0-3) scored twice to tie the game with 3:07 left before the Rockets’ game-clinching drive.
“Adversity is going to hit you in the face throughout the course of a 60 minute football game, especially when you are playing a good team,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “I thought our guys did a great job of maintaining their poise and composure through those tough times and I was really proud of our offense to go down and execute when we had to and get a score.”
Woodside was 23-of-30 passing for 322 yards and four touchdowns. He connected with senior tight end Michael Roberts for three touchdowns, and found senior wide receiver Corey Jones for another score.
Hunt carried the ball 25 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, and junior Terry Swanson had 115 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Bowling Green struck first when redshirt freshman quarterback James Morgan found Scott Miller on a 10-yard TD pass to complete an eight-play, 70-yard drive and give BG a 7-0 lead with 8:59 left in the first quarter.
Toledo responded quickly when Woodside found a wide open Roberts down the sideline, and the tight end dove and extended the ball across the goal line for a 41-yard TD. The touchdown capped a six-play, 70-yard drive by the Rockets to tie the score at 7-7.
Woodside then hit Roberts on a 22-yard TD strike with just 36 seconds left in the first half and Toledo led 14-7 at halftime.
Bowling Green took its opening drive of the second half and scored when Morgan hit Miller on a 15-yard pass to tie the game 14-14 with 10:37 left in the 3rd.
Woodside found Roberts on a 5-yard TD pass with 3:22 left in the third quarter to give Toledo a 21-14 lead. Then Woodside hit Jones on a 64-yard TD pass with 2 seconds left in the third quarter to give Toledo a 27-14 lead.
The Falcons responded quickly with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Scott Miller, making the score 27-21 with 14:26 left in the game, which was the start of a wild fourth quarter.
Swanson rushed in from 63 yards out, and Woodside hit Roberts for the 2-point conversion to give the Rockets a 35-21 lead with 10:25 left in the game.
“Me and my fellow backs did a good job of wearing them down all day,” Swanson said. “Eventually, defenses will wear down and, having those other guys in Damion Jones-Moore and Kareem Hunt, helps wear down the defense and anyone can break one. I saw a crease and I just made sure to hit it and not get caught.”
After a huge fake punt which saw junior punter Joseph Davidson rush for 24 yards, Morgan hit Marquis Zimmerman on a 20-yard TD pass to cut the Toledo lead to 35-28 with 6:47 left in the game.
“Our very first punt of the game, our coaches in the press box saw that the punt return team all released with our guys,” Davidson said. “There was space on the back side when everyone released. It was a gutsy call to give it a shot in a close game. And we executed it.”
Morgan then hit Teo Redding on an 18-yard TD pass to tie the game 35-35 with 3:07 left in the game.
Morgan was superb all game in his first taste of the rivalry, going 25-of-38 passing for 335 yards and five touchdowns. Miller finished with eight catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns, and Fred Coppet rushed 17 times for 105 yards.
Bowling Green played well in a game in which it came in as a 31-point underdog on the road. Despite the effort by the Falcons, this loss and losing seven straight times in the series still stings.
"At the end of the day, a loss like this is always going to hurt,” BG senior nose guard Izaah Lunsford said. “But it hurts a little more because it’s been seven years. We put our hearts on the line, so this hurts a little more.”
For the Toledo seniors, the tight win keeps them unbeaten against their rivals in the I-75 series.
“That’s why you come to play Toledo football, to go undefeated in a series like that against a great football team,” Roberts said. “They gave us a run for our money and all credit to them, but we did what we had to do to win.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt scores the game-winning touchdown against Bowling Green State University with 18 seconds left in the game on Saturday at the Glass Bowl. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH