Toledo scored the game’s first points in the first 29 seconds of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, but couldn’t hold off Florida International University, falling to the Golden Panthers on Friday afternoon.
Eli Peters threw for 264 yards and tied a career high with three TD passes. Diontae Johnson caught six passes for 98 yards and a score, while Jon’Vea Johnson added two touchdown catches. Bryant Koback scored the game’s first touchdown with a three-yard rush in the first quarter, and both Richard Olekanma and Tuzar Skipper led the Rockets with eight tackles.Toledo took the lead early with 10 points in the first quarter, but FIU’s strong rushing attack put the Panthers ahead by 10, 35-25, late in the game. However, Peters found Johnson for the second time in the corner of the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown with two seconds left to keep the Rockets’ hopes alive. UT’s chances came down to an onside kick, which was recovered by FIU to seal the Panthers’ victory.
Toledo set the tone on the opening kickoff, as freshman Terrance Taylor forced an FIU fumble that was recovered by junior DeDarallo Blue on the FIU three-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Koback ran it in for a three-yard TD that put Toledo up 7-0 just 29 seconds into the contest. Near the end of the quarter, a Rocket drive stalled at the FIU 10-yard line, causing UT to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Jameson Vest to extend the lead to 10-0.
In the second quarter, FIU got on the board on a five-yard touchdown run by Anthony Jones that capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive to trim the lead to 10-7 with 12:44 to play in the half.
Toledo missed a chance to put more points on the board when Koback fumbled on the FIU three-yard line following a four-yard gain. The Panthers recovered on their own four-yard line. FIU took a 14-10 lead on a 36-yard pass from Christian Alexander to tight end Sterling Palmer with 2:57 left in the second quarter.
Toledo regained the lead on its first drive in the third quarter, moving 75 yards in eight plays. Peters scrambled for 28 yards to the FIU 10-yard line, then finished off the drive with a seven-yard TD toss to Jon’Vea Johnson.
FIU came right back, however, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown run by Anthony Jones to give the Panthers a 21-17 edge with 3:47 left in the quarter.
The Golden Panthers added to its lead early in the fourth quarter when Maurice Alexander raced 16 yards up the middle for the score, capping a nine-play drive that began on the FIU’s 12-yard line. Toledo answered with a two-yard TD from Peters to Diontae Johnson. UT made the two-point conversion on a nifty catch by Cody Thompson in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 28-25 with 7:21 left.
FIU’s Jones scored his third rushing touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, putting the Rockets in a 10-point hole with 41 seconds left. The Rockets did not go quietly, though; Peters found Jon’Vea Johnson for a 43-yard TD in the corner of the end zone to pull Toledo within three, 35-32, with just two seconds remaining. However, UT’s onside kick attempt was not successful.