The Toledo Rockets came off their first loss of the 2018 campaign looking for redemption against the visiting Nevada Wolfpack during the University of Toledo’s parents weekend.
The Wolfpack entered this year’s contest with a highly potent offense, one that hoped to match the equally potent Rocket offense.
On the first drive of the game, the Rockets would go three and out, running the ball twice for minimal gains. Fortunately for UT, their stout defense would also force a three and out.
A short punt by the Wolfpack placed the Rockets at midfield. UT was able to strike gold on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Guadagni to Jon’Vea Johnson to give Toledo the early lead, 7-0.
Despite this quick score, the Rockets had little time to celebrate. Nevada drove the ball down the field on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that would culminate in a one-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Ty Gangi.
After a quick three and out, the Rockets were once again forced to punt, and unable to answer the Nevada score. Like the game against VMI earlier this season, the Rockets were aided by their special teams.
The Rocket defense stood tall and forced a Nevada punt. This punt would be blocked deep in Nevada territory by Desmond Phillips and scooped up by Reggie Gilliam of the Rockets for a touchdown, giving the Rockets the lead once again, 14-7.
Off of a botched punt return by Danzel McKinley-Lewis, Nevada scored off of a pass from Gangi to Elijah Cooks for a 22-yard touchdown on third and long,
After the Nevada touchdown, Diontae Johnson ran the kickoff 98 yards to the house, giving UT the lead again, 21-14.
Gangi again would march the Wolfpack 75 yards in a drive that finished with a 31-yard touchdown run by Toa Taua of the Wolfpack, tying it 21-21.
UT executed a nine-play, 67-yard drive to take a 28-21 lead. The drive ended when Guadagni found Cody Thompson for a four-yard touchdown. This catch by Cody Thompson extended his games-with-a-catch streak to 33 games in a row.
Nevada drove down the field to attempt a 50-yard field goal that narrowly crossed the bottom upright to put the Wolfpack on the board before half, making it 35-24 Toledo at halftime.
In the second half, the Wolfpack offense wasted almost no time getting to the end zone and making it a one score game again, as Kelton Moore ran it in, making the score 35-31.
Guadagni and the Rocket offense picked up where they left off at the end of the first half. Guadagni threw a play action touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson. This score would extend the Rockets lead to 42-31.
Nevada first-year Taua took a handoff on the very first play of the next drive and went straight up the middle untouched for a 66-yard touchdown to once again make it a four-point ball game, 42-38.
Guadagni hooked up with Art Thompkins and Thompson in route to a seven-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that concluded with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Thompson for his second score of the day, extending the Rocket lead to 49-38.
The Rockets would score another touchdown, this time coming with some trickery. Wide receiver Desmond Phillips would take a hand off and make a picturesque throw to Thompson who caught his third touchdown of the day, giving the Rockets a 56-38 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Wolfpack would score again to cut into the lead, then go for a two-point conversion and be unsuccessful, making it 56-44.
After a botched onside kick (one that included a five-yard illegal formation penalty), the Rockets turned to their running game to chew clock and hopefully get a victory. What would happen was a 37-yard touchdown run, and the second of the game for quarterback Guadagni. This touchdown extended the Toledo lead to 63-44, seemingly putting the contest out of reach. It was set in stone when Wolfpack quarterback Ty Gangi threw an interception late in the fourth, that completely halted any Nevada comeback.
It was a career day for Guadagni, the third-year quarterback filling the shoes of last year’s starter Logan Woodside. Guadagni completed 15 of 24 throws, for 211 yards and four touchdown passes. He added a career-high 131 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, for a career-high of six total touchdowns.
The Rockets were aided nicely by special teams and a potent offense, for their second win of the season.
“One thing that can’t get lost here, is that there are a lot of young players playing,” Head Coach Jason Candle, “And they’re in some new situations that they’ve never seen before”.
Action will resume for the reigning MAC champions next weekend in Fresno, California, as the Rockets will take on Fresno State.
The Rockets will be back in the Glass Bowl to face off against arch-rival Bowling Green at 3:30. Oct. 6 for the homecoming edition of the Battle of I-75.