Rockets hold off Coastal Carolina 38-28
On a day when four Mid-American Conference members knocked off BCS schools, Toledo certainly didn’t want to be the one to lose to an FCS program.
That possibility was almost a harsh reality for the Rockets through the first half and into the second before a late fourth quarter touchdown gave UT (3-1, 1-0 MAC) a 38-28 victory over Coastal Carolina.
“My hat goes off to Coastal Carolina, I thought their kids executed their game plan extremely well,” said UT head coach Matt Campbell. “They played with great effort and really gave themselves a chance to win this football game.”
The Chanticleers (2-2) gave UT all they could handle, trailing by just a field goal at the half and taking a 21-17 lead in the third quarter. With 8:41 remaining, UT was clinging to a three point lead.
A couple players admitted after the game that the preparation this week could have been a bit better and they may have taken the Big South member a bit too lightly.
“They surprised us with the talent they have,” said junior receiver Bernard Reedy, who went over the 100-yard mark for the second time this year. “I think we came out lazy.”
Campbell wouldn’t say a preparation issue existed, but did state that his staff needs to make sure their players have the right mentality for games of this nature.
“A lot of it goes back on us as coaches,” Campbell said. “We’re going to look back on this game and see that there are a lot of areas that we need to [address] to put our kids in better position. That part of it is on me and we need to do a better job as a coaching staff taking care of those situations.”
CCU piled up 432 yards of offense on the Rockets and quarterback Aramis Hillary threw for 356 yards on 30-of-47 passing and three touchdowns. It was the third time an opposing quarterback went for better than 300 yards on the Toledo defense.
“The biggest problem I see [from the secondary] is when you freak out and try to be who you’re not,” Campbell said. “We just need to go back to some of the details about playing really good pass defense.”
The Rockets did, however, sack Hillary five times. Many of them were on third down and at other key moments, including one from senior linebacker Dan Molls and two from junior defensive end Jayrone Elliot.
The Chanticleers got off to a quick start, going 80 yards on eight plays on their first drive of the game in just 2:04. Senior running back Jeremy Height took it in from a yard out and CCU took a 7-0 lead.
Several missed tackles allowed the Chants to keep the drive alive and get extra yardage.
Toledo took their first lead of the game with 1:46 left in the first quarter when junior quarterback Terrance Owens found senior tight end Cordale Scott for one of his two touchdowns on the night.
On UT’s first possession of the second quarter, Owens launched a pass deep down the middle for Reedy, who got under it just shy of the end zone and hauled it in for a 43-yard score to put the Rockets up 17-7.
Reedy used every bit of his speed to burn his defender and catch up to a pass that appeared to be thrown a bit too far in front of him.
“Terrance looked at me just said to get open,” Reedy said. “That was the play, just get down the middle of the field so I just decided to run faster than their safety.”
Reedy finished the night with 10 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Toledo started the game with several quick screens to the outside to Reedy and freshman Alonzo Russell, who had seven grabs for 97 yards. Campbell said he wanted to test Coastal Carolina’s corners early and that may have helped to set-up the long touchdown.
Trailing 17-14, CCU marched right down the field to begin the second half and took a 21-17 lead when Hillary found junior DeMario Bennett in the back corner of the end zone for a 19-yard score.
Leading 24-21, Reedy returned a punt 39 yards down to the CCU 19. Two players later, sophomore running back Cassius McDowell scored from six yards out to put UT up by 10 with 1:17 to go in the third.
The Chants refused to go away and got back within three with 8:41 to play.
A McDowell fumble gave Coastal Carolina the ball at the Rockets 36 and Hillary connected with receiver Tyrell Blanks for a 17-yard score to put the pressure back on the Rockets.
“We have great respect for their quarterback, we knew what his capabilities were,” Campbell said. “For us, it’s a bunch of detail things. [The coaches] have to do a great job seeing those details and putting our kids in the best position.”
Owens and the Rockets slammed the door once and for all, connecting with Scott for the second time in the end zone with just under five minutes to play and gave Toledo a 10-point victory.
Owens finished the game with 290 yards completing 27 of his 36 throws for three scores and added a fourth on the ground. He has not thrown an interception in his last 230 attempts, a streak that dates back to Nov. 8 of last year.
UT will return to the field next Saturday night on the road at Western Michigan. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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