The University of Toledo football team defeated Northern Illinois 27-17 in a battle for the top spot in Mid-American Conference West Division. The win boosts the Rockets’ record to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in MAC play.
“Tonight was about our senior class,” UT head coach Jason Candle said. “It was about Terry Swanson. It was about Logan Woodside. It was about Trevon Mathis. It was about Marquise Moore, Elijah Nkansah, Brant Weiss, these guys that have been rock-solid players, guys that have played a lot of football here and have been embarrassed by this football team that we played tonight. They probably took that a little personally and came out tonight and got a win.”
Fourth-year quarterback Logan Woodside threw for 361 yards and completed 23 of 31 passes. He ended the day with 9,288 career passing yards, giving him the record for most passing yards in program history—62 more than previous record-holder Bruce Gradkowski (9,225 from 2002-05).
Fourth-year running back Terry Swanson became the seventh Rocket to rush for more than 3,000 yards in his career. Swanson was given the rock a lot in the game, running the ball a career-high 29 times for 116 yards and three touchdowns, also a career high. He now has 3,082 yards in his four-year career.
UT scored on its opening possession of the game on an eight-play, 81-yard drive. Swanson capped off the drive with a four-yard TD run. The Huskies responded later in the quarter on a one-yard run by Tre Harbison that capped a 70-yard NIU drive.
The Rockets failed to capitalize on a chance to score in the second quarter when a 10-yard TD run by Woodside was reversed and ruled a fumble before he crossed the goal line. The Rockets got the drive started on their own one-yard line but blasted off on an 89-yard catch and run by second-year receiver Diontae Johnson. Johnson caught a career-high 10 passes for 166 yards.
“We knew we were going to face adversity at some point in the football game,” Woodside said. “With football, there is adversity and you have to overcome it. I would have liked to have had that back, but my teammates picked me up and I shook it off and just tried to go out and make the next play.”
The Huskies marched down the field quickly on their first possession of the second half on a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard run to give NIU its first lead, 14-10. Toledo fought back with 13-yard touchdown run by Swanson to retake the lead with 8:55 left in the third quarter. A few moments later, the Rockets extended the lead to 24-14 on a one-yard drive by Swanson.
The Husky special teams unit came up big when Jackson Abresch blocked first-year Bailey Flint’s punt attempt deep in Toledo territory, recovering the ball on the UT 11-yard line. However, Toledo’s defense held strong and forced NIU to settle for a 25-yard field goal, making the score 24-17.
Toledo countered again with a 34-yard field goal by Vest with 8:58 left to play to up the Rocket lead to 27-17. NIU was forced to try a 47-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide right with 3:46 to play. UT ran down the clock on its final possession before punting it away with 1:28 left. The Huskies advanced to the UT 25-yard line when time ran out.
“NIU has had us for a long time,” Woodside said. “We just came out and stuck together and executed when we needed to and came out on top. I’m so proud of this team. The defense played lights-out tonight. The offensive line and Terry did a great job tonight. This is big for us, but next week is going to be bigger.”
The Rockets travel to Athens, Ohio next Wednesday to face the MAC East Division co-leading Ohio Bobcats. The game is at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.