The University of Toledo hosted rival Bowling Green for its 2018 homecoming game. The Rockets and Falcons would match up for the 83th time, with the series deadlocked at 39-39-4.
Last year’s contest was a 66-37 Toledo victory. The Rockets came into the 2018 contest looking for their ninth straight win against their ‘I-75’ rivals.
Second-year quarterback Eli Peters started the game for the Rockets to many surprises. Regular starter, Mitchell Guadagni, was injured in the Rocket’s loss to Fresno State last week.
Guadagni, who warmed up in normal game attire, was left on the sideline as Peters drove the Rockets 59 yards in eight plays, leading to a 39-yard Jameson Vest field goal that put the Rockets up 3-0 early in the contest.
The Falcons began their first drive of the afternoon looking for an answer, but all they got was a three and out, forcing a punt.
Things would turn for the worse on the Falcon punt, as the rockets broke through for a punt block, getting fans to stand up at the Glass Bowl.
Peters and the potent Rocket offense wasted little time punching the ball into the end zone, as Peters found tight end Reggie Gilliam for a touchdown that pushed the Rockets lead to 10-0.
Following a costly fumble by the Falcons, Peters and the Rocket offense once again capitalized. Peters connected with Diontae Johnson from seven yards out for an early 17-0 lead for the Rockets.
As the Falcons were desperate for a score, it took a long third down conversion of 47 yards and a pass interference penalty by the Rockets on a fourth down that allowed the Falcons to get a 15-yard rushing touchdown from Andrew Clair.
The Rockets’ offense failed to pick up some steam during the ensuing drive, and the Falcons had the ball as the first quarter ended. Clair once again found a crease in the Rockets’ defense as he broke a 60-yard touchdown run to silence the Glass Bowl and cut the Toledo lead to three, 17-14.
With that touchdown, the momentum suddenly shifted to the Falcons, prompting a Rocket answer. A long and exhaustive Rockets’ drive, that featured the first fourth down conversion of the year for the Rockets, ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Art Thompkins. This score capped off a 12-play, 67-yard drive.
True to the game’s form, the Falcons did not blink. Down 10, in the middle of the second quarter, BGSU struck quickly, on a five yard TD pass capping off a 75-yard touchdown drive.
On the scoring play, Clair found himself wide open, out of the backfield, with not a single defender between him and the end zone.
The scoring onslaught screeched to a halt midway through the second quarter, but picked up midway through the third quarter when the Rockets pieced together a 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive that concluded with a two-yard touchdown pass from Peters to wideout Cody Thompson, who was having himself a day against the Falcons.
Thompson’s touchdown extended the Rocket lead to 31-21. Quarterback for the Falcons, Jarret Doege, and his rushing offense immediately started marching following the Rocket score. The Falcons entered the game last in the Mid-American conference in net rushing yards per game. However, they were carving the Rockets’ defense on routine running plays.
Bowling Green continued to ‘pound the rock’ in scoring the drive that lasted nearly seven minutes, culminating in a Doege TD pass to Quintin Morris for an eight-yard touchdown, making the score, 31-28 rockets.
Peters and the ever-so-diligent Rocket offense were able to put the ball deep into BGSU territory, however, their drive came to a stop when kicker Vest missed a field goal attempt, energizing the Falcon faithful in the Glass Bowl.
That same energy from Falcon fans quickly dissipated, as their team could hardly muster any positive yards and were forced to punt. The punt was a bad one and only traveled about 20 yards. This gave the Rockets excellent field position, with a chance to seal the game.
The Rocket offense seemed to be in disconnect, and a punt was forced by the Falcon defense. The punt pinned BGSU at its own one-yard line, which subsequently forced a three and out.
The Falcons caught a break when a short punt was taken to the house by Johnson but was called back due to a penalty on Toledo. Nevertheless, the Rockets’ offense made quick work of the short field position, and Bryant Koback found the end zone on a seven-yard touchdown run.
Koback would put another one in the end zone for the Rockets with five minutes left in the game to extend the Rockets’ lead to 45-28 and put the game on ice.
After a few late scores by both teams, the final in the Glass Bowl was 52-36 Rockets with Koback rushing for three touchdowns for the Rockets and Peters throwing three.
With the win, the Rockets are now 3-2 on the season, and 1-0 in the MAC. This was the ninth straight victory for the Rockets over the Falcons.
“Everyone thought this was going to be a one-sided win,” head coach Jason Candle said. “From the outside, everyone tried to make it that. That doesn’t put any pressure on the team; it puts pressure on our locker room and I thought our kids handled it really really well.”
The Rockets will go on the road to battle the Eastern Michigan Eagles 12 p.m., Oct. 13 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The last time the two teams met resulted in a 20-15 Rocket victory.
The Eagles come into the game at 2-4 overall and 0-3 in Mid American Conference play.