Kent, OH - Sophomore Kareem Hunt enjoyed his homecoming to Northeast Ohio Tuesday as he rushed for 141 yards to lead Toledo to a 30-20 victory over Kent State in a rain-drenched Dix Stadium.
The victory moves Toledo into bowl eligibility at 6-3 and, more importantly, keeps the Rockets on top of the West Division of the Mid-American Conference at 5-0. Still on the horizon is another big November 11 showdown at Northern Illinois (6-2, 3-1 MAC).
Quarterback, center leave with injuries
On the negative side for UT, senior All-MAC center Greg Mancz and sophomore quarterback Logan Woodside both left the game in the second half with injuries. Their status for next week’s contest is uncertain.
Woodside was solid in the poor weather conditions, completing 16-of-25 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the game with an apparent leg injury in the third quarter.
Senior placekicker Jeremiah Detmer also overcame the rain and a driving wind to knock down 3-of-3 field goals in the first half. It was his most productive game since he kicked five field goals as a sophomore during a 29-23 upset over No. 18 Cincinnati back in 2012.
Big halftime lead
Toledo held a 16-0 halftime lead and then hung on to survive a second-half Kent State rally. Trailing 30-7 with 3:53 left in the third quarter, the Golden Flashes cut the lead to 30-20 with 13:15 left in game. But Toledo’s defense held KSU off the board the on its final three drives to secure its fifth-straight league victory.
In the first half, the Rockets consistently moved down the field behind the legs of Hunt and Swanson, but ended up settling for the right leg of Detmer.
Detmer connected on field goals of 26, 28 and 45 yards to give the Rockets a 9-0 lead early in the second quarter.
UT finally found the end zone with 2:54 left in the half when Woodside hit senior Justin Olack for a 16-yard score to put the Rockets up, 16-0. The biggest play on the drive was a 27-yard catch and run by Swanson.
Toledo extended the lead to 23-0 on its first drive of the second half on an eight-yard pass from Woodside to junior Alonzo Russell.
Kent State got on the board when sophomore Nick Holley broke a tackle on fourth-and-one and took it 50 yards for the score, cutting the lead to 23-7. But the Rockets came right back and marched 75 yards in eight plays to push the lead back to 23 points, 30-7. The drive was capped by junior Kishon Wilcher’s first career touchdown catch, a two-yarder from Woodside.
Flashes mount comeback
KSU did not give up, scoring touchdowns on its next two possessions to cut the lead to 30-20 with 13:15 left in the contest. Quarterback Nathan Strock set up the first score with a 65-yard run to the 11-yard line. The next TD was aided by a snap that went over Toledo punter Nick Ellis’ head, with Kent State taking over on at the UT 25-yard line. Five plays later, Strock hit Casey Pierce for a three-yard score. KSU’s two-point conversion attempt was no good, keeping the Rocket margin at 10 points with much of the fourth quarter left to play.
Toledo ended any comeback threat by stopping the Golden Flashes on their final three drives. Sophomore defensive tackle Trevon Hester recovered a fumble to snuff out the first drive and KSU was forced to punt on its next possession. Then on KSU’s final drive of the game, junior Trent Voss tipped a Strock pass into the air and brought the ball in for a game-clinching interception with 27 seconds remaining. It was one of three Kent State turnovers aiding the Rockets in the game. Strock completed 13-of-30 for 82 yards and two interceptions on the night.
Toledo will resume action at Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Nov. 11 in a contest that could determine the MAC West champion.
Kent State gets another division leader – this time on the road – when it goes to Bowling Green Nov. 12.
(Courtesy of Toledo Atheltics)