Last Thursday, the UT football team defeated the Western Michigan Broncos 51-24 in a crucial MAC West divisional game. The win bumped the Rockets’ record to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in Mid-American Conference play.
Second-year quarterback Eli Peters came into the game in relief to replace third-year quarterback Mitchell Guadagni, who was injured earlier in the game.
Peters was 8 of 14 for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Guadagni was 10 of 18 for 140 yards and two scores for his time he was in.
Fourth-year Cody Thompson was the leading receiver with six receptions and three TDs. UT’s offense outgained 515-432 in total yards. First-year running back Bryant Koback led the ground game with 99 yards and one touchdown.
The Rockets’ defense showed up when it counted, limiting the Broncos to just seven points in the second half. The Rockets racked up five sacks and stopped WMU on some key drives.
Linebackers fourth-year Richard Olekanma and third-year Jordan Fisher led the defense with nine and eight tackles, respectively.
The first quarter was back and forth as UT jumped out early, going 43 yards in four plays, culminating with a 10-yard Guadagni-to-Thompson connection in the back of the end zone to give the Rockets a 7-0 lead.
Western countered with a 42-yard run by Jamari Bogan and a 25-yard TD pass from Kaleb Elebe to Jayden Reed to knot the game up.
Toledo answered quickly and drove 78 yards on nine plays to regain the lead at 14-7.The touchdown was a two-yard pass from Guadagni to third-year receiver Diontae Johnson.
In the second quarter, a 25-yard field goal from fourth-year kicker Jameson Vest boosted the Rocket lead to 17-7. WMU cut down the lead with a field goal of their own to make the score 17-10. Vest hammered in another field goal, this time from 28 yards out to bring the lead up to 10 at 20-10 with just over a minute to play.
The Broncos had a 62-yard firecracker down the middle of the field with just 24 seconds left in the half. Toledo ended the half with a 45-yard field goal by Vest, bringing the score to 20-17.
In the third quarter, Peters stepped up and led the Rockets to three touchdown drives. The first was from a flea flicker when third-year receiver Desmond Phillips tossed the ball back to Peters, who hit third-year tight end Reggie Gilliam down the sideline for a 34-yard TD.
The Rocket defense then forced and recovered a Bronco fumble, which the offense capitalized off of with an 18-yard scoring connection from Peters to Thompson. UT’s special teams threw off a WMU punt when Gilliam got a piece off the ball, giving the ball to Toledo at the WMU 38-yard line.
Koback ran it in shortly after from three yards out to increase the Rocket lead to 44-17. Western made the score look better with a one-yard TD run by Bogan to cut into the lead to 44-24.
Toledo's defense then had two sacks on the next drive from fourth-year pass rushers Tuzar Skipper and Reggie Howard to hold the Broncos.
Toledo shut down Western on a fourth-and-two pass, keeping them a yard short of a first down on the Rocket 39-yard line. First-year defensive back Zachary Ford was key in the stop.
The Rocket offense closed out the game with an eight-yard TD reception by Thompson, his third of the game, with 8:13 left in the game.
The Rockets return home for a MAC West division battle with the Ball State Cardinals at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 in the Glass Bowl Stadium.