Western Michigan defensive end Keion Adams sacks Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside during the first half of Friday’s game. ASSOCIATED PRESS
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The University of Toledo football team’s bid for its first Mid-American Conference West title since 2004 got off to a dubious start, and a poor third quarter ultimately sunk the Rockets as they fell 55-35 to Western Michigan on Friday at Waldo Stadium.
For the second consecutive season, the Broncos spoiled Toledo's chance to make the MAC championship game. With the win, Western Michigan completes a 12-0 regular season (8-0 MAC), while Toledo finishes the season 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the MAC.
“Western Michigan played a really good game,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “When we turn the ball over like we did and they did a great job of turning those into points. When you make mistakes against a good team, they capitalize on them fast and certainly they did that. It’s really hard to run the table in college football and go undefeated. That’s a difficult task and hats off to their staff and their players to get that accomplished.”
Senior running back Kareem Hunt carried the offensive load for the Rockets, with 20 carries for 200 yards and three catches for 73 yards. Junior quarterback Logan Woodside finished 13-of-24 passing for 229 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions and a fumble. Senior tight end Michael Roberts caught three touchdown passes.
Toledo won the toss and chose to receive the opening kick. On the first play from scrimmage, Woodside was intercepted by Western Michigan's Asantay Brown and Brown returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
“They made a real good play on it,” Woodside said. “They came out in man coverage and just undercut a pass. I don’t think it really affected me at all. We came back and went right down the field and scored and that was the end of that.”
Toledo answered with a six-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 9-yard shovel pass from Woodside to Roberts to tie the score at 7 with 12:27 left in the first quarter. On the drive, Hunt accounted for 66 yards with a long catch and two big runs.
“Obviously [the first play] was a little momentum for them,” Candle said. “But it was a 7-7 game after that with a lot of time left. The kids handled the adversity of that one play, but you certainly don't want to start out like that.”
Jamauri Bogan led Western Michigan with 31 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Zach Terrell was 19-of-25 passing for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Corey Davis was the leading receiver with eight catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
The Broncos scored on their first offensive possession of the game after Jarvion Franklin rushed in from 14 yards out to finish a 13-play, 81-yard drive and give Western Michigan a 14-7 lead with 5:18 left in the quarter.
Franklin had two rushing touchdowns in the game for the Broncos.
Butch Hampton kicked a 23-yard field goal to open the second-quarter scoring and give Western Michigan a 17-7 lead with 14:03 left in the half.
Toledo answered with a quick four-play, 90-yard drive ending with a 38-yard TD run by Hunt, making the score 17-14 Broncos with 12:16 left in the half.
Franklin scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run with 3:02 left in the half to give Western Michigan a 24-14 lead.
Western Michigan took the opening drive of the second half and completed a 12-play, 76-yard drive. Terrell hit Davis on a 2-yard TD strike to give the Broncos a 31-14 lead with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
Bogan added a 27-yard touchdown run to give Western Michigan a 38-14 lead with 5:47 left in the third.
On the next possession, Woodside was hit from the blind side and fumbled the ball. Western Michigan recovered at the 9-yard line. On the next play, Terrell hit Carrington Thompson on a 9-yard TD pass to give Western Michigan a 45-14 lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
“I know there’s probably a lot of plays out there that we wish we could’ve got back,” UT senior safety DeJuan Rogers said. “But everybody gave 100 percent effort. We played a real good football team tonight, but it wasn’t the result we expected.”
Woodside opened the fourth-quarter scoring by finding Roberts for a 3-yard TD pass which cut the Western Michigan lead to 45-21.
Western Michigan then got a 23-yard field goal by Butch Hampton to make the lead 48-21.
Woodside hit Roberts again for a 21-yard TD pass to cut the Broncos' lead to 48-28 with 7:53 left.
Terrell then found Donnie Ernsberger on a 7-yard TD pass to give Western Michigan a 55-28 lead with 1:41 left
UT junior running back Terry Swanson closed the game with a 2-yard TD run with 35 seconds left to make the score 55-35.
“We took this thing over 11 months ago and put together our coaching staff and a good senior class to lead this program and put us in a position to be in this situation,” Candle said. “Tonight we didn’t get it done. It’s as simple as that.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.