The Toledo Rockets raced by the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 63-44, in the GoDaddy Bowl Sunday night in Mobile, Ala.Explosive offenses. Turnovers cashed in for touchdowns. New bowl records. The game televised on ESPN had it all.
Sophomore Kareem Hunt carried the ball 32 times for 271 yards and five touchdowns. The UT running back set new GoDaddy Bowl records for yards gained and TDs. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
His five TDs ties the Toledo record for touchdowns, and ties the all-time bowl record for rushing touchdowns held by two others, most recently Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders at the 1988 Holiday Bowl.
Arkansas State quarterback Fredi Knighten threw for 403 yards and five touchdown passes. The Red Wolves end their season 7-6.
Combined, the two teams amassed 1,009 yards and 107 points during the contest.
Toledo sophomore running back Damion Jones-Moore rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while sophomore quarterback Logan Woodside completed 21 of 27 passes for 176 yards.
After winning the coin toss, Toledo deferred. The game had a wild start. On the Red Wolves’ first play, the Rockets’ Treyvon Hester knocked the ball loose from Knighten and forced a fumble at ASU’s 17-yard line, and UT scored when junior linebacker Trent Voss recovered the ball in the end zone in the first 10 seconds. Voss had a career-high four tackles for loss among his game-high 10 tackles and was named Defensive Player of the game.
Less than two minutes later, Arkansas answered with a 44-yard touchdown pass to tie it up.
And it was on.
Hunt powered his way into the end zone on a four-yard run with about five minutes to play in the first quarter to put the Rockets up 14-7.On UT’s third offensive possession, it was Hunt again, this time with a 44-yard run to score as the Rockets took a 21-7 lead.
With a 66-yard TD pass from Knighten to Tres Houston, Arkansas State crossed the goal line before the end of the first quarter to make it 21-14. That tally set a new GoDaddy Bowl record for most points scored in one quarter.
After the Red Wolves kicked a field goal to make it 21-18, Hunt rumbled 29 yards to score his third touchdown of the night to put the Rockets up 28-17 with just a little more than two minutes to play before halftime.
Then Toledo’s defense came up big again when sophomore cornerback Jordan Martin blitzed and forced a fumble that was scooped up by Allen Covington. The 275-pound junior ran 67 yards for a TD to give UT a 35-17 lead at halftime.
Hunt’s fourth touchdown run midway through the third quarter made the score 42-17 as Toledo put 21 unanswered points on the board.
Things got interesting, however, as ASU came back with two touchdowns to trim the lead to 42-31. First, Booker Mays got free for a 55-yard TD reception from Knighten, then Money Hunter picked off a Logan Woodside pass and streaked 94 yards into the end zone.
In the fourth quarter, Hunt countered with his fifth touchdown to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive to give Toledo a 49-31 lead with 11:46 left to play.
But the Red Wolves wouldn’t go away. Knighten hit Mays again for 27-yard TD just a minute later to make it 49-38.
Jones-Moore gave the Midnight Blue and Gold some breathing room with a 10-yard touchdown run to make it 56-38 with 6:33 left in regulation.
About four minutes later, Arkansas State scored, but a two-point conversion attempt failed and made it 56-44.
Jones-Moore motored in for his second score of the game, a 29-yard run to make it 63-44 with 1:02 left. It was the highest point total for Toledo this season.
The Mid-American Conference West Division Co-Champions finished their season 9-4 with a three-game winning streak.