The University of Toledo headed to Detroit to face off against Akron University in a battle for the Mid-American Conference Championship. Toledo entered the game as 18-point favorites, fueled by their 48-21 victory of the Zips earlier in the season. The previous game proved a good indicator for the Championship game, as Toledo came away with their first MAC title since 2004, winning 28-45.
Toledo was led by fourth-year quarterback and player of the game Logan Woodside and the high powered Rocket offense. Toledo put up 561 total offensive yards in the victory, including 182 rushing yards from fourth-year running back Terry Swanson. Akron was unable to get anything going on offense, putting up just 396 total yards.
Neither team’s offense were able to make waves in the first half, with both offenses punting on their first drives. Toledo was kick started by a massive 48-yard punt return from second-year receiver Danzel McKinley Lewis, putting them on the Akron 17 yard line.
A holding penalty set them back 10 yards, but a 27 yard pass from Woodside to second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson put Toledo in the endzone, giving the Rockets a 7-0 lead.
Toledo stopped the Zips on the following drive, putting the ball back into the hands of the high-powered Toledo offense. Toledo started on their own 18-yard line and pounded the ball down the field on a 10-play 81 yard drive that ended in a missed field goal from kicker Jameson Vest.
Akron switched their quarterbacks on the following drive, but were unable to convert a first-down. At the end of the first-quarter, Toledo held the lead 7-0.
Toledo started the second quarter with the ball, but after an early fumble, Akron took the ball back deep in Rocket territory. Akron had their own problems, as back to back penalties took away a potential touchdown and set the Zips farther back than they had started. After a failed attempt to secure a first down, Akron attempted a field goal. The attempt was blocked by second-year defensive lineman Nate Childress and returned by third-year safety Josh Teachey all the way back to the Akron 34 yard line. Three plays later, Toledo was in the end zone again, this time a two yard rush from Swanson. Toledo extended their lead to 14-0.
Akron continued to struggle on offense, as they punted again after gaining only one yard on three plays.
The Rocket’s offense continued to dominate, putting up another touchdown an eight play, 64 yard drive. The score came from another Woodside to Johnson connection, giving the duo two touchdowns in the game. Toledo now maintained a 21 point lead as Akron still looked for their first score.
Things started to get uglier for the Zips as fourth-year Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson threw his first interception of the game to fourth-year cornerback Trevon Mathis, giving Toledo a chance to put even more points on the board before halftime. Toledo instead responded with an interception of their own, as Woodside recorded his first turnover of the game. Akron was unable to score, and Toledo took over with 1:39 left in the half, looking to redeem themselves for the previous turnover. Toledo found that redemption on a 27 yard Jon’vea Johnson touchdown, giving Toledo a 28 point lead heading into the half.
Toledo dominated the Zips on offense, with the Rockets putting up 326 total offensive yards in the first half compared to Akron’s 98. The Toledo defense also helped out with the massive first half lead, holding Akron to only 6 first downs in the first half.
Toledo drove the ball 76 yards down the field, but a fumble by Swanson on the one yard line ended the drive before the Rockets could score, recovered by the Akron defense. Akron’s failings on offense continued, as they punted on third down again. Toledo brought their next drive close enough for Vest to nail a 47-yard field goal, making the score 31-0. The next score of the game came from a Woodside to first-year running back Shakif Seymour touchdown, extending the score to 38-0. Akrons offense woke up deep in the third with a 59 yard pass, putting Akron in prime position to cut into Toledo’s lead. Akron recorded their first touchdown off a seven yard rush, making the score 38-7 heading into the third quarter. Second half troubles followed Toledo into the fourth quarter, as Toledo opened their drive with Woodside’s second interception of the day. Akron capitalised on the interception by scoring their second touchdown of the game, cutting Toledo’s lead to 24.
Toledo gave the ball back to Akron after yet another fumble, this time coming from Seymour. The Rocket defense quickly made up for the offense mistake, as Toledo forced and recovered a fumble of their own on Akron's first play. Swanson was back in the game for Toledo, and on the first play after the fumble he took the ball 54 yard down the field for another touchdown. This extended Toledo’s lead to 45-14. Late in the game Akron managed to score two more touchdowns, but the rally proved too little too late.
The late game rally showed Akron still had fight in them, but it came much too late in the game. Toledo managed to hold on to their massive lead and took home the MAC Championship, 28-45.
Toledo awaits the announcement of which bowl game they will be headed too.