Against Ohio on Thursday night, big plays by the Bobcats and an uncharacteristically flat offensive performance spoiled a record-setting night for the University of Toledo in a 31-26 loss at the Glass Bowl.
In a game in which Toledo junior quarterback Logan Woodside set the single-season school record for most touchdown passes, the Rockets staged a late rally but the mistakes were too much to overcome.
“We made undisciplined and uncharacteristic mistakes that caught up to us at the end,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “We had a slow start and when we got rolling in the second half, it was a little too late. Give credit to OU. They’re a very good football team and a very well-coached team. They’re a team that doesn’t beat themselves. They caught a couple of breaks with some turnovers and they were able to capitalize on them.”
Aside from a scoreless first quarter, Toledo (6-2, 3-1 MAC) gave up big plays most of the game defensively, allowing 12 plays of 20 yards or more for Ohio (6-3, 4-1).
“The big plays came at some critical times,” Candle said. “They came on third downs. Give them the credit. They played well and hard.”
Junior running back Dorian Brown gashed the Rockets, carrying the ball 29 times for 212 yards and included a 51-yard touchdown run.
“[On] some of his long runs, we were undisciplined on defense,” Candle said. “We were out of our gaps. When you give a good running back a crease like we did, he is going to gain the yards he needs to gain. They pushed us back and wore us down a little bit. Part of that is we didn’t do our part offensively. We didn’t play to help our defense.”
After UT managed just two field goals by Jameson Vest in the first half, Woodside got going a bit in the second half and tossed three touchdowns passes, two to Jon’Vea Johnson and one to Corey Jones.
But a team that was good at converting third downs coming into the game struggled to extend drives offensively, going 6 for 15 in that situation.
“It starts with first and second down,” Woodside said. “We can’t get ourselves in third-and-long and expect to convert every time. We have to be better on first and second down to set up easy third-and-medium, third-and-short.”
Ohio quarterback Quinton Maxwell started the game, but was replaced midway through by backup Greg Windham. Maxwell, a redshirt freshman, was forced to come back in the game after Windham was carted off the field with an injury in the third quarter.
Maxwell responded with three scoring drives for OU and showed a great deal of poise.
“He has that ability in him,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “He’s a guy that even if things aren’t going well that will still battle, fight, hang in the pocket and make throws.”
Ohio led 31-20 with 8:08 left in the game, but Toledo responded on Woodside’s second TD pass to Johnson with 3:28 left in the game. After a failed two-point conversion, the Bobcats led 31-26.
After forcing a punt by Ohio, Toledo had one final chance with the ball at its own 25-yard line with 55 seconds left and no timeouts. A desperate rally fell short when Woodside spiked the ball on fourth down near midfield. A false start was called on the play and a 10-second runoff ended the game.
“Toledo is an outstanding football team,” Solich said. “They are always prepared and play the whole game. It took us the whole game to put them away. I thought our guys responded well on both sides of the ball.”
Woodside’s three touchdowns moved his season total to 31, overtaking Bruce Gradkowski’s previous single-season mark of 29 in 2003 and ’05.
Despite the three touchdowns by Woodside, Toledo was not able to get into a consistent rhythm offensively.
“A lot of that credit goes to Ohio’s defense,” Woodside said. “They put us in some bad spots at times. We shot ourselves in the foot with some turnovers. Give them all the credit. They outplayed us today.”
The offense was one-dimensional most of the game as Ohio stifled the Toledo ground game.
“They have a very good front,” Candle said. “We never got into a rhythm of being a balanced offense. We were pretty balanced in the first half, but then we were one sided with throwing the football in the second. That is not who we are, but playing against a good defense and playing from behind makes you do that.”
With a trip to Akron coming up Wednesday, the Rockets have little time to dwell on the defeat.
“Work starts tomorrow morning,” UT senior tight end Michael Roberts said after the game.
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