TOLEDO, Oh -- It was ‘Crunch Time” for the Toledo Rockets Wednesday night at the Glass Bowl. Pitted against arch-rival Bowling Green, who is already headed to the Mid-American Conference Championship game, Toledo desperately needed a win to keep its own title game hopes alive. Somebody needed to step up!
Somebody did, and while the Rockets 27-20 victory required the efforts of many, one man might well have epitomized a title of “Captain Crunch” – so to speak.
On a night when UT (7-4, 6-1 MAC) committed three turnovers – to none by the BG -- Toledo prevailed with the help of a “career night” by running back Kareem Hunt. The 5-11, 215-pound sophomore carried 19 times for a career-best 265 yards on a frigid night. That was just six yards short of the total offensive yardage for Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2 MAC)
“I wanted him to run it as much as possible,” Toledo head coach Matt Campbell said.” Last week he only got 18 carries, and we felt like he needed to touch the ball more. Kareem Hunt needs the ball in his hands, and I think you saw why.”
Among Hunt’s carries was a career-long 91-yard third quarter touchdown. It was the longest run by any MAC player since 2010.
“Our offensive line did a great job with a pull-block, and I saw nothing but grass and just one person out there, so I said to myself that we were going to score right here. I was just trying to do everything I could to get us up by seven,” Hunt said.
The lightning quick strike gave UT its biggest lead of the night at 20-10 with 4:36 remaining in the period.
Callaway completed 5 of 13 for 96 yards in his stint at the helm. Three were on the drive that pulled BGSU even. When he hit Ronnie Moore for a 17-yard TD pass and Tate followed with the PAT, it was a 20-20 game with 13:17 remaining.
Ja’Wuan Woodley’s 28-yard kickoff return set UT up at its own 48. Back-to-back 17-yard carries by Hunt and Dwight Macon preceded a 7-yard TD run by Macon for the go-ahead score.
Macon, the one-time quarterback more recently a wide receiver, was pressed into QB duties last week due to multiple Toledo quarterback injuries. Sophomore Logan Woodside (injured leg) was back at helm for most of the snaps Wednesday, but Macon once again contributed from the QB position.
“Last week, Dwight showed that he can make some plays with the ball in his hands,” Campbell said. “Logan really sparked us. (But) with him not 100 percent, it was very important to have the services of Dwight. I thought it was imperative to get both of them in the game early and make a game plan for both of them to be successful.”
Bowling Green had three more possessions after UT’s go-ahead score. However, the Falcons only made it into Toledo territory on the second drive. After getting a first down at the Rockets’ 29, Callaway was sacked twice in three plays. The second sack, by Junior Sylvestre, came on 4th-and-11, so Toledo took over.
Although they picked up just one yard, Nick Ellis’ punt traveled 59 yards and was fair caught at the Bowling Green three-yard line. Just 1:29 remained on the clock.
Callaway immediately found Gehrig Dieter for 31 yards, but another sack and three incompletions finished the Falcons.
“First and foremost, that was a great football game. When you talk about a rivalry, I thought both these teams played extremely hard. It was a well-fought win for our Toledo Rockets,” said Campbell, whose team kept alive hopes for a trip to the MAC title game. That would mean a return match with MAC East champ Bowling Green.
“I am just disappointed, for the seniors, Falcons head coach Dino Babers said. “They are a very good football team, and they deserved to win this side of the division. I would really like to give the seniors one more chance against them.”
- Toledo cleared a major hurdle for getting to the MAC title game with its win Wednesday. But it still needs to take care of its own business and get help. The Rockets must beat Eastern Michigan in their finale (Friday, Nov. 28, 1 p.m. ET) and hope that Western Michigan can beat Northern Illinois. The latter contest is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 28 in Kalamazoo (WMU).
- Babers noted a huge momentum shift in the third quarter after an apparent BG passing touchdown was wiped out by a penalty (Illegal touching -- receiver out of bounds on the route). After a punt, Hunt ran the next play 91 yards for a score. “Momentum is everything,” Babers said. “A play doesn’t go right for us, and a play goes right for them, then there goes everything and that is a 14 point swing in a seven point game.”
- UT outgained Bowling Green 388-271.
- Offensive lineman Jeff Myers warmed up before the game without a shirt despite wind chills in the teens. “Part of me thought it was funny, but also last week was cold and a lot of guys were cold on the sideline. I wanted to show the guys that it’s not that cold. I mean I am out here without a shirt on. Don’t complain.”
- Toledo senior captain Greg Mancz, injured in the Kent State game, was unable to play in his final UT-BGSU game. Myers noted Mancz was nonetheless on the sideline with headsets on and passing on his insight along the way.