Junior quarterback Logan Woodside threw for a career-high 371 yards and three touchdowns and the Rocket defense dominated the Red Wolves’ offense as Toledo beat Arkansas State, 31-10, in the season opener for both schools at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro Friday night.
The victory, Toledo’s third over ASU in the last three seasons, was the first regular-season win for Head Coach Jason Candle. Candle also coached the Rockets to victory in the final game of last season, a 32-17 triumph over Temple in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl.Toledo dominated both sides of the ball, outgaining Arkansas State, 556-266, in total offense. At halftime, the Rockets had 293 yards of offense to just 80 for the Red Wolves. UT took a 21-3 lead into the locker room.
Woodside sat out last season as a redshirt, but hardly missed a beat. His passes threaded the needle, and he made smart decisions when receivers were covered. Junior Cody Thompson led the Rocket receivers with five receptions for a career-high 174 yards and a touchdown.
All three of Toledo’s running backs contributed, with senior Damion Jones-Moore leading the way with 81 yards on 11 carries. Senior Kareem Hunt added 78 yards and a score, while junior Terry Swanson chipped in with 30.
Toledo’s defense, which returned only three starters from last season, kept Arkansas State off balance all night. The Rockets held the Red Wolves to just 142 yards rushing on 38 carries. Sophomore defensive end Olasunkanmi Adeniyi led the way with eight tackles, three tackles for loss, and one sack.
Toledo started out a little slow before finding its bearings. UT missed a chance to score first when Jameson Vest’s 40-yard field goal attempt went wide right midway through the first quarter. Moments later, Arkansas State took advantage of a Rocket turnover and converted it into a 43-yard field goal by J.D. Houston to take a 3-0 lead with 1:17 left in the opening period.
The Rockets struck back with three touchdowns in three consecutive possessions. The first score was a 75-yard drive that took 12 plays. Hunt got the drive going with 19-yard run in which he bowled over a pair of Red Wolves before going down at the ASU 47-yard line. Six plays later, Woodside found tight end Michael Roberts wide open for a five-yard score.
Toledo made it 14-3 on its next drive, going 51 yards in 11 plays. Hunt capped it off with a dive from one-yard out. Moments later, Woodside hit Cody Thompson in the end zone for a 16-yarder that put UT up, 21-3.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Rockets scored on their first two possessions to put the game on ice. Vest began the half with a 42-yard field goal. Roberts caught his second TD pass of the night, a 22-yard strike from Woodside. That play was set up by a 44-yard pass-and-catch over the middle by Thompson, who broke two tackles before being forced out of bounds at the ASU 21-yard line.
Toledo nearly made it 38-3 following a 49-yard completion from Woodside to Thompson. The ball was stripped at the one-yard line as Thompson battled to get in the end zone, with the fumble going out of the end zone for touchback.
ASU finally broke through with 11:14 left in the game when Chad Voytik connected with Blake Mack for an 83-yard pass play that moved the Red Wolves to the five-yard line. Four plays later, Armond Weh-Weh plowed in from two yards out to make the score 31-10 with 11:14 to play.
But any chance for an Arkansas State rally was thwarted when Toledo stopped ASU on downs on its own five-yard line with 6:10 left.
The Rockets return to Toledo to host Maine in their home opener in the Glass Bowl Saturday, Sept. 10. Follow Toledo here.