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Toledo ready to move on to Coastal Carolina after big win

By Jay Skebba
On September 19, 2012

After disposing of archrival Bowling Green Saturday, the Rockets are flying high and look to keep the momentum going as they prepare for FCS opponent Coastal Carolina this weekend.

Toledo emerged victorious in the Battle of I-75 for the third consecutive year, knocking off the Falcons 27-15 in front of a capacity crowd at the Glass Bowl.

“It was a really hard-fought, tough victory for our football team,” said head coach Matt Campbell. “I couldn’t be prouder of our 19 seniors. I thought the leadership of our team was outstanding through all 60 minutes of the game.”

Junior Terrance Owens once again took every offensive snap and appears to have cemented himself as the full-time starter.

Owens threw for 303 yards — the second week in a row he hit the 300-yard mark — while connecting on 20-of-28 passes and a touchdown.

For the season, he’s completed 56-of-91 (61 percent) for 737 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He sports a superb passer rating of 151.3.

Owens has been interception-free on his last 194 pass attempts, a streak that dates back to Nov. 8, 2011 against Western Michigan.

“Terrance is playing extremely well right now, he’s playing with great confidence,” Campbell said. “The last two weeks, he’s come out and played steady, consistent and made some really good throws.”

In addition to T.O.’s big game, the Toledo defense put together their best performance of the season.

After allowing well over 500 yards of total offense a game in their first two games, UT held BG to just 351.

One reason for the Rockets success against the Falcons was the play of sophomore cornerback Cheatham Norrils, who has started to grow up right before the eyes of the coaching staff.

The secondary graduated a pair of starting corners last year and Norrils made the switch from safety prior to the season to help fill the void.

The St. John’s graduate has been on the field with the first-team defense all year and came up with his first career interception Saturday. He also recorded seven tackles to bring home MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“Cheatham Norrils is a young man who has great athletic ability and he’s got the potential to be as good as he wants to be,” Campbell said. “He has decided to become an extremely good player. How he’s practiced, how he trained in the offseason, what he’s done through fall camp and I think he’s played very steady and very consistent.”

Norrils and the rest of the Rocket defense will be tested against the Chanticleers.

Despite being an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formally Division I-AA) member, they have players on both sides of the ball capable of making plays and causing issues.

The Chants, from the FCS’s Big South Conference, enter this game 2-1 and are led offensively by quarterback Aramis Hillary, a fifth-year senior who transferred from South Carolina after 2009.

Hillary has thrown for 771 yards, four scores and four interceptions in three games. His athleticism makes him a dual-threat and a quarterback that Campbell compared to Wyoming’s Brett Smith who he faced two weeks ago.

“Offensively, they have a tremendous quarterback,” Campbell said. “He’s got the ability to run and throw and we have tremendous respect for this team coming in. He’s a young man who is a transfer and a young man that I believe is up for the National Player of the Year in FCS football this year. [He] makes all the plays.”

Campbell was also quick to praise Coastal Carolina’s defense, which features two members of last year’s all-conference team.

Senior linebacker Andrae Jacobs was a first team selection and senior defensive end Chris Thomas was named to the second team.

Jacobs had 10 tackles for loss last year and was named the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2010.

Both players have been relatively quiet in 2012 with just a 0.5 TFL between them.

The Chants are coming off a 35-17 defeat at the hands of Eastern Carolina, but Campbell and the Rockets refuse to take them lightly.

“For us, it’s the next step,” Campbell said. “This team has great leadership and [it’s] all about our seniors. They’ve done a great job leading this football team and I expect them to do the same this week.”

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