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UT’s seniors get another shot at MAC title

11/18/2016, 12:25am EST
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Focus quickly shifts to undefeated Western Michigan

UT’s seniors get another shot at MAC title

Toledo receiver Cody Thompson reaches for the end zone to score a touchdown during the Rockets’ victory Wednesday against Ball State at the Glass Bowl. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

With 23 seniors playing their final home game for the University of Toledo on Wednesday night, a dense fog settled into the Glass Bowl.

The unique setting coupled with a 37-19 win against Ball State provided a memorable send off for the Rockets’ senior class.

Senior Kareem Hunt rushed for 107 yards and caught a 71-yard touchdown pass on his way to six catches for 98 yards.

IN PICTURES: Toledo 37, Ball State 19

“My biggest deal was to send these seniors off with a win,” Hunt said. “Myself, I definitely didn’t want my last game to end in a loss. It’s a great feeling. The touchdown was a great feeling.”

Another senior, Corey Jones, made a big play by returning a punt 63 yards for a touchdown for the first UT punt return touchdown since 2012.

“It was huge,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “We’ve been close all year. It’s been a shoestring tackle here or we get a penalty or something just isn’t right and we are one guy off. On special teams you have to have 11 guys in a cohesive unit. It was to good to see 10 guys get their block and Corey to do what he does best when he gets the football in his hands. It was a really great play for him.”

Junior quarterback Logan Woodside was 25-of-39 passing for 325 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. In the game, Woodside set the single-season passing yards mark for UT with 3,653 yards on the season, topping the previous mark of 3,518 yards set by Bruce Gradkowski in 2004.

Woodside, who took a redshirt last season, was recruited with many of this year’s senior class.

“It’s big for them,” Woodside said. “I came in with a lot of those guys. To get a win with them, something we couldn’t do last year, that’s something coach Candle definitely emphasized this week is to give the seniors one last win at the Glass Bowl.”

This year's senior class is 35-13 during the past four seasons and 24-7 in the conference. After four years of hard work and dedication to the program, sometimes the final home game is a reminder to the players just how fast four years can fly by.

“It’s crazy,” senior defensive end John Stepec said. “People don’t lie how fast it goes. It really does. It was like a blink of an eye.”

With the Toledo contending for a Mid-American Conference title, the focus quickly shifts to an undefeated Western Michigan team. With a win in Kalamazoo on Nov. 25, Toledo would win the MAC West title and earn a spot in the MAC championship game.

“We’re going to celebrate this win tonight and then get back into it tomorrow,” Woodside said after the game. “We have a really good Western Michigan team that we have to go up and play. It will be a big week of preparation for us this week to try to go up there and play well.”

With so much still at stake at the end of the season, the legacy of this year’s senior class still is to be determined.

“I know their journey is not done,” Candle said. “I know they feel like there is a lot left that still needs to be accomplished for them. I think we have another few weeks to tell what I will remember most about this senior class. I will remember the spirit of competition and how they practice every day and what it means to go to work. These are guys that have great fundamentals to have what it takes to be a great person and a great man in the future.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo