Rockets fly past Eagles 54-16
The Rockets routed Eastern Michigan 54-16 at the Glass Bowl Saturday afternoon to remain unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference.
Toledo (3-3, 2-0 MAC) fired on all cylinders, passing for 302 yards and rushing for 240 while the defense contained the Eagles (3-3, 1-1) to 227 yards of total offense.
"I thought we were a little sloppy, there's no question about it," said UT head coach Tim Beckman. "But in the end, I thought we fought for four quarters and did what we came to do, which is win a football game."
Junior wide receiver Eric Page had 233 all-purpose yards, including 189 yards in the first half. Page caught 11 passes for 109 yards and a score, in addition to breaking loose for an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown.
On the last play of the first quarter, Page made his 230th career catch to surpass Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Stephen Williams for the most receptions in program history.
"It's a great record and it was set by a great player," Page said. "He taught me everything I know when I was a freshman and he was a senior, so it just goes out to him and the coaches and all the other players on the team."
Should Page return for his final year of eligibility, his career reception total could reach unsurpassable heights.
"When it's all said and done, I don't think anybody will be able to catch him in receptions," UT quarterback Austin Dantin said. The NCAA record for receptions in a career is held by Taylor Stubblefield, who caught 316 passes for Purdue from
2001-04. But Page, a Springfield High School product, does not appear concerned with that record either.
"I'm not thinking about that," Page said. "I'm thinking about a MAC championship."
Dantin and sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens appeared to be thinking about a MAC championship also, combining to complete 90 percent of their passes with two touchdowns each against EMU.
Starting under center, Dantin was 14-for-16 for 156 yards, while Owens completed 13 of 14 passes for 146 yards.
"They are both fabulous quarterbacks and they enable us to do different things with our offense," Beckman said. "We really don't lose a beat with either one in the game."
Four Rockets had receiving touchdowns, including Page, Bernard Reedy, Kenny Stafford and Morgan Williams.
Williams also had 19 carries for 71 yards while sophomore tailback David Fluellen rushed eight times for 74 yards to lead the ground attack.
In what has become a recurring theme, Toledo suffered several key injuries in the game.
Junior safety Jermaine Robinson is probable for next week's game after injuring his arm, and defensive end T.J. Fatinikun is day-to-day after an arm injury of his own, but senior tight end Danny Noble is out indefinitely after breaking his fibula.
"It's college football," Beckman said. "You never know when an injury might come about, so you better be ready to play when your name is called.
"I was very proud of the guys who came in and took over for the injured guys."
Ben Pike came in for Fatinikun and sacked Eagles quarterback Alex Gillett twice in the first half.
The Rockets defense had seven tackles for loss in total. Redshirt-freshman Ray Bush led the team with six tackles. Senior cornerback Taikwon Paige and defensive end Johnathan Lamb each had an interception, while redshirt-freshman walk-on cornerback Joseph Missler recovered a fumble.
Williams started the scoring barrage just over ten minutes into the contest on a 19-yard pass from Dantin.
Five minutes into the second quarter Owens threw a bullet over the middle which resulted in a 55-yard touchdown reception for Reedy.
After the Rockets defense forced EMU to go three-and-out, Page busted free for an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Casano made good on the point after to give Toledo a 21-0 lead.
The Eagles managed their first score of the game on a 48-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Kody Fulkerson which made the score 21-3 with 3:37 remaining in the half.
Eastern Michigan forced the Rockets into a three-and-out on the following drive, forcing a Vince Penza punt. A kick catching interference call against freshman Junior Sylvestre brought the Eagles out to their own 35-yard line.
Three plays later, junior quarterback Alex Gillett completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kinsman Thomas with 1:22 left until the break.
Danny Farr blocked Fulkerson's extra point attempt and senior cornerback Desmond Marrow returned the ball for a defensive PAT to make the score 23-9 at the half.
Casano started the scoring for the Rockets in the second half, capping off a 60-yard drive by chipping in a 19-yard field goal which made the score 26-9 at the 6:44 mark of the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Paige picked off a pass by Gillett to give Toledo the ball on the Eagles 42-yard line.
"All week we went over that play," Paige said. "So when I saw the receiver I knew what it was."
A 24-yard rush from Williams fronted the Rockets next scoring drive which ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Owens to Stafford. Casano brought the score to 33-9 with the PAT.
Page caught a 24-yard pass from Dantin for pay dirt in the closing minute of the third quarter to make it a 40-9 contest.
Williams and junior David Pasquale scored on short rushes in the fourth quarter as Toledo rolled to a 54-16 victory.
The Rockets return to action at arch-rival Bowling Green (3-3, 1-1) Saturday at noon.
"We know that it's the next step, and it's definitely a rivalry game," Beckman said. "We'll be prepared."
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