After being hampered by three interceptions in the first half, the Rockets scored on their first five possessions of the second stanza. Combined with a stifling showing by UT's defense in the final 30 minutes, it was more than enough for Toledo to maintain its unbeaten record and notch the fifth-largest comeback in school history.
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Senior quarterback Phillip Ely, ignited the second-half explosion with four scoring tosses, finishing the day with a career-high 355 passing yards and a career-best five TDs. Ely's five touchdown throws are tied for third-most in school history, trailing only former Rocket Bruce Gradkowski's total of six that he accomplished on two occasions.
Ely primarily spread the ball out to a trio of receivers. Sophomore Cody Thompson hauled in six catches for 116 yards and a career-best two scores. Senior Alonzo Russell caught five passes for 96 yards with a TD, and junior Corey Jones matched his season-high with eight receptions for 88 yards and one TD.
Sophomore RB Terry Swanson led Toledo's ground attack with 21 carries for 118 yards and a score. Junior Kareem Hunt added 90 more yards on 20 rushes, and junior Damion Jones-Morre owned 61 yards on 14 attempts.
Senior S Rolan Milligan topped the Rockets' defensive efforts with a season-high 10 tackles.
Toledo opened the second stanza with a 70-yard march down the field that culminated with Ely finding Thompson wide open in the end zone. Russell brought the Rockets within 28-24 when he was able to get his foot in bounds just inside the end line. Junior TE Michael Roberts put the Midnight Blue and Gold ahead to stay, 31-28, on a four-yard catch with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.
A Swanson one-yard plunge and a 31-yard toss from Ely to Thompson in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter continued UT's scoring spurt. Freshman PK Jameson Vest closed out the Rockets' scoring with 25- and 29-yard field goals for a season-high three field goals for a third time this season.
UMass took advantage of good field position in the first quarter following a pair of Ely interceptions en route to a 14-3 lead. The Minutemen went 44 yards in eight plays for their first score with Blake Frohnapfel hitting Rodney Mills for a 10-yard touchdown.
Toledo was driving for a go-ahead score later in the opening frame, but Ely was picked off by Randall Jette at the 16-yard line. Jette returned the ball 48 yards to give the Minutemen the ball at Rockets' 36-yard line. Two plays later, Frohnapfel connected with Shakur Nesmith for a 14-yard score to put the Rockets down 14-3.
Toledo answered quickly with a touchdown less than two minutes into the second quarter. Ely found Jones wide open with a 20-yard scoring strike into the corner of the end zone.
Frohnapfel continued his hot play and led the Minutemen on their longest drive of the game, a six-play, 76-yard possession that resulted in a 35-yard touchdown reception by Tajae Sharpe.
Things continued to worsen for UT on its next possession. Ely was intercepted for a third time and UMass took over at the 50-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, Marquis Young scampered 50 yards for a touchdown to give the Minutemen an 18-point cushion.
Toledo will now set its sights for a showdown vs. West Division rival Northern Illinois at the Glass Bowl on Tuesday, Nov. 3. UMass is at Ball State next Saturday.
(Courtesy of UT Athletics)