RENO — It was not always pretty and was sloppy at times, but the University of Toledo football team rose to the occasion with a 37-24 road win Saturday against Nevada at Mackay Stadium.
Despite committing 14 penalties for 110 yards, the Rockets (2-0) were able to come away with a big road win.
“Any time you go on the road, it is hard and difficult to get wins,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “Certainly this was a great environment for their first home game. We handled the trip really well and got the goal accomplished that we set out to do and that was to win the football game. I thought it was very sloppy at times and at times even a little undisciplined. There are some things we definitely have to correct and have to fix as we move forward. We went from two penalties last week to double digits this week. That’s not championship football. That’s not who we are.”
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Senior UT running back Terry Swanson scored two touchdowns and rushed for 101 yards on 27 carries. Toledo rushed for 211 yards on 60 carries as a team. Logan Woodside was 19-of-27 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and Cody Thompson caught a career-high eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Diontae Johnson added four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Swanson said. “The offensive line did a great job. This [Nevada] defense, they blitz a lot. So we knew it was going to be difficult coming in. But the O-line did a good job. We just wanted to take some time off the clock with time management and the running game was there, so that is what we went to.”
Toledo led 34-17 after Woodside found Thompson on an 8-yard touchdown strike with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Nevada answered on its next play from scrimmage on a 75-yard scoring pass from Ty Gangi to McLane Mannix to cut the lead to 34-24.
Just when momentum seemed to be going Nevada’s way, the Toledo defense came up with two key fourth-quarter turnovers.
Nate Childress recovered a fumble after Tuzar Skipper sacked Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi. Then Ja’Wuan Woodley intercepted a Gangi pass as Olasunkanmi Adeniyi hit the arm of Gangi on his throwing motion.
“It was a great feeling,” Adeniyi said of the interception. “It was a play-action pass, and I just kind of flipped my ears back and got to the quarterback and thank God Ja’Wuan Woodley was there to get the ball. Then Tuzar Skipper got around the edge. We kept telling him he was on the man side and he had to beat his guy. That caused a turnover and from there we just got the hype back and got the feeling back and got back into it.
After a Jameson Vest field goal gave Toledo a 37-24 lead with 4:31 left, the Rockets defense forced a turnover on downs after Gangi threw incomplete on a 4th-and-2 play inside Toledo territory.
“Those defensive plays were huge,” Candle said. “Those guys on defense have worked really hard this preseason to create a culture where we are taking the football away. To see that happen in key moments, that is really refreshing. It’s a credit to our senior leadership there and it’s some good coaching to make that a point of emphasis.”
Toledo led 20-10 at the halftime after two Vest field goals, a touchdown from Woodside to Diontae Johnson and a touchdown run from Swanson.
With Toledo leading 17-3, the Rockets caught a big break. They were driving for another score when Thompson bobbled a pass from Woodside, and Nevada’s Vosean Crumble intercepted the ball and returned it 93 yards to the Toledo 6-yard line. After reviewing the play, the referee ruled the pass hit the ground and was incomplete.
Vest then was able to kick a 25-yard field goal on the next play to give Toledo a 20-3 lead.
Nevada answered with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Gangi to Daiyan Henley just before halftime.
Swanson scored again on the opening drive of the second half after the Rockets completed a 13-play, 75-yard drive. That gave Toledo a 27-10 lead.
Gangi then rushed in from a yard out to complete a Nevada drive and cut the Toledo lead to 27-17 with 7:11 left in the third.
The Rockets responded with the touchdown pass from Woodside to Thompson for a 34-17 lead.
Gangi then hit Mannix deep down the sideline on a 75-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead back to 10 points at 34-24.
On the next possession, Toledo went back down the field, but the drive stalled and Vest missed a 31-yard field goal wide left.
That’s when Toledo stepped up its defense and forced the key turnovers.
“That was big,” Swanson said. “It was a momentum killer for that offense over there. Shoutout to our defense, they did a great job.”
Vest then added a 23-yard field goal with 4:31 left to stretch the lead to 37-24.
“It’s a great way to go out for our first road win and we just have to keep it rolling,” Adeniyi said.
“It was big to get a road win,” Swanson added. “It wasn’t our best performance, but a win is a win and we are going to move forward and get ready for Tulsa.”