Defense Leads Rocket Rally Past CMU, 50-35
TOLEDO - The Rockets used a pair of second-half touchdowns off interception returns to defeat Central Michigan, 50-35, in a come-from-behind Homecoming victory at the Glass Bowl Saturday afternoon.
With Toledo holding a slim 34-28 advantage midway through the fourth quarter, senior safety Mark Singer picked off a Ryan Radcliff pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. Fellow senior safety Jermaine Robinson slammed the door on the Chippewas late in the game when he went to the house on a 31-yard Radcliff pass.
Toledo (5-1, 3-0 MAC) trailed at halftime, 21-17, mostly due to three turnovers, matching its season total through the first five games. But the Rockets outscored CMU in the second half, 33-14, to claim their fifth straight win.
Junior wide receiver Bernard Reedy paced the offense with 293 all-purpose yards. Reedy caught 10 passes for 92 yards, and also returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown. Junior quarterback Terrance Owens connected on 22-of-33 passes for 229 yards, while rushing for 66 yards and two scores to lead the offense. Junior running back David Fluellen rushed for 104 yards and one TD.
Toledo's defense, playing without three starting defensive linemen, held CMU to 373 yards of total offense, including just 46 yards rushing on 24 attempts.
Toledo opened the scoring on a 33-yard field goal by Jeremiah Detmer that was set up by a 53-yard punt return by Reedy. However, a Reedy fumble on Toledo's next possession gave CMU the ball on the 11-yard line. The Chippewas cashed in on the very next play, an 11-yard run by Zurlon Tipton that gave CMU a 7-3 lead.
Toledo regained the lead on a 13-play drive that was capped on a one-yard plunge by Fluellen on fourth down. CMU countered as Radcliff hit Titus Davis for a 23-yard pass to cap an 89-yard, seven-play drive that gave the Chippewas a 14-10 lead.
Another Toledo turnover helped CMU extend its lead to 21-10. Reedy fumbled following a short completion, giving CMU the ball on the UT 27-yard line. Four plays later Radcliff found Deon Butler for a seven-yard score to give the Chippewas a 21-10 lead with 8:08 to play in the half.
Owens threw an interception, his first in eight games, on UT's next possession but the Rockets' defense forced a punt thanks to a 13-yard sack by junior Ben Pike. Owens sat out the next UT possession in favor of senior Austin Dantin, then returned to the game to drive the Rockets 90 yards in the final two minutes to cut the CMU lead to 21-17 at the half.
Toledo came out of the locker room with renewed energy, scoring two third-quarter touchdowns. Reedy helped make amends for his earlier fumbles by dodging a handful of CMU tacklers on his way to a 66-punt return that went the distance. After a CMU punt, Owens led the Rockets on a 54-yard scoring drive and finished it off himself with a one-yard dive to put Toledo up, 31-21.
CMU countered with a touchdown that was set up on a 44-yard pass play from Radcliff to Cody Wilson that had 15 yards tacked on the end of it due to a personal foul. Three plays later Radcliff found Courtney Williams for a three-yard scoring pass that cut the lead to 31-28.
Toledo's next drive stalled, forcing the Rockets to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Jeremiah Detmer and extending the lead to six, 34-28. Just three plays later, Singer made the defensive play of the game when he picked off Radcliff and bolted 39 yards. Toledo went for two but Owens pass was intercepted, making the score, 40-28.
CMU cut the lead to 40-35 on a 15-play drive with 3:03 to play. But the Rockets drove to the 11-yard line with 54 seconds left and Detmer knocked down a 28-yarder to make the score, 43-35. Radcliff's first pass on the ensuing drive was a pick-six for Robinson, snuffing out any chance for a Chippewa rally.
The Rockets continue their tour of Michigan schools with a game at Eastern Michigan in a MAC West battle next Saturday at 1:00 p.m.