Rockets fall to Ball State 34-27
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 23:11
Well, it was nice while it lasted.
The Toledo Rockets entered the Top 25 in the BCS, Coaches and AP polls this week, but didn’t resemble the team that got them there Tuesday night at the Glass Bowl.
UT committed 10 penalties – three of them personal fouls – for 111 yards and junior running back David Fluellen had a costly fumble deep into Ball State territory helped spell the end of their eight-game winning streak and spot in the national rankings.
“Ball State made the more disciplined plays throughout the football game,” said UT head coach Matt Campbell. “We played behind much of the game tonight and we did some things that have been uncharacteristic of us this season.”
Perhaps the most pivotal moment came with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
With the score tied at 27, Toledo faced a 4th-and-2 from the BSU 14. Instead of allowing sophomore Jeremiah Detmer to attempt a chip shot to give the Rockets the lead, Campbell elected to go for it.
Fluellen took the handoff and was promptly stuffed by a host of Cardinal defenders, giving the ball back to Ball State.
“I really felt like we were in a groove,” Campbell said. “We just converted on the 4th-and-1 earlier in the quarter and I thought we had a pretty good read on what they were going to do. Unfortunately, we didn’t execute it and they stopped us. That’s on me”
After taking over on downs, BSU marched down the field and grinded away at the clock with an 11-play, 86-yard drive capped off by Jahwan Edwards’ 15-yard run around the left side for a back-breaking score. With under two minutes to play and no timeouts, UT had no choice but to let him have it.
“We brought all the pressure, pinched everybody and felt if they run the football outside, we’d let them score and see if we can give ourselves a chance to go win the game,” Campbell said.
The Rockets has one last shot to find the end zone and force overtime, but junior Terrance Owens failed to connect on third and fourth down.
Cardinal quarterback Keith Wenning completed 29-of-42 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns to shred a Toledo defense that was without the services of senior safety Mark Singer.
One of the biggest leaders on the defense, Singer tweaked his knee in practice and was forced to sit out. Campbell expects him to be ready for next week’s showdown at Northern Illinois.
The Cardinals offense came out firing on all cylinders as junior Keith Wenning picked apart the UT secondary, completing 7-of-8 on the game’s opening drive. He found junior wideout Jamil Smith on a seven-yard out route to give BSU an early lead.
The Rockets stalled at the BSU 45 on their first possession and watched Wenning march right down the field for a second time. He completed all five of his passes to run his streak to 12 straight completions, including a 25-yarder to junior Connor Ryan to put the ranked Rockets in an early 14-0 hole.
The Rockets got on the board with 1:30 to play in the first when Terrance Owens sold a beautiful play fake to Cassius McDowell allowing Bernard Reedy to get behind the entire defense for a 25-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half.
After forcing a three-and-out and finally knocking the Cardinals out of their rhythm, the Rockets went back to work.
David Fluellen found the endzone from 13 yards out, but Reedy’s illegal block in the back negated it and forced the Rockets to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Jeremiah Detmer to make it 14-10. Fluellen had another scoring run called back in the first quarter.
“Our guys were playing hard and mistakes will happen,” Fluellen said. “We all make mistakes and it’s not anyone’s fault because of penalties. We have to move on and learn from it.”
The Rockets took their first and only lead of the night on a 16-yard run by Fluellen on a pivotal 4th-and-1 play to start the fourth quarter.
Junior receiver Bernard Reedy went in motion, Owens faked the handoff to him and gave it to Fluellen whoo scampered untouched up the middle for the go-ahead score, making it 27-24.
Ball State would outscore UT 10-0 the rest of the way to seal the deal.
Fluellen ran the ball 30 times for 200 yards, his third game reaching 200 and sixth consective game in double digits.
UT turns its attention to NIU, a must-win game to help reach the MAC Championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. CST Wednesday in Dekalb, Ill.