Another dominating performance by Toledo’s defense helped the Rockets defeat Ball State, 24-10, on a cold and blustery afternoon in Muncie, Ind., Saturday.
With the victory, the Rockets move to 4-0 on the season, 1-0 in Mid-American Conference play.Toledo, which entered the game just one spot out of the AP Top 25 poll, could crack into the list in next week’s poll for the first time since 2012.
One week after stifling Arkansas State 37-7, Toledo held the Cardinals to just 262 yards of total offense and one touchdown on a long pass play, its first TD allowed from scrimmage since the fourth quarter of the Iowa State game. The Rockets led 24-3 at halftime and held Ball State to just 26 yards rushing on 30 carries. Rocket opponents have rushed for 12 yards on 54 attempts in the last two games.
Junior linebacker Jaylen Coleman led Toledo in tackles with eight, his fourth consecutive game tallying a team-high mark in stops. Senior defensive end Trent Voss added seven tackles and three tackles for loss, while senior cornerback Cheatham Norrils had six stops and two pass breakups.
The offense, missing injured star running back Kareem Hunt (hamstring) for the second straight game, was powered by a three-headed rushing attack of sophomore Terry Swanson (139 yards) and juniors Damion Jones-Moore (85 yards, 1 TD) and Marc Remy (56 yards). Senior quarterback Phillip Ely shook off two first-quarter interceptions to complete 16 of 22 passes for 164 yards and two scores.
Toledo’s offense got off to a rocky start, with Ely throwing interceptions on his first two attempts, one each on UT’s first two possessions. However, Toledo was not harmed by the miscues as the Rocket defense stopped the Cardinals after both turnovers.
The Rockets finally broke through after their defense forced a turnover of their own. Junior linebacker DeJuan Rogers knocked the ball loose from BSU quarterback Riley Neal that was recovered by Keenan Gibbs. Ely then marched UT 69 yards in 12 plays, finishing off the drive with a two-yard TD pass to junior tight end Michael Roberts.
UT advanced the lead to 14-0 on their next drive, sticking mostly with the ground game. Swanson had back-to-back runs of 16 yards, and Jones-Moore finished it off with an 11-yard score.
Toledo’s next score was a 31-yard field goal by Jameson Vest that was set up by a 41-yard run by Remy, making the score 17-0 with 3:15 left in the half.
Following another Ball State punt, Ely hit senior wide receiver Alonzo Russell for a 38-yard scoring strike to make the score 24-0.
The Cardinals finally got on the scoreboard on a 29-yard field goal by Morgan Hagee as time expired to end the first half. It was the first points allowed by Toledo’s defense since overtime of the Iowa State game Sept. 19.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Ball State shook off its offensive doldrums with a 51-yard touchdown reception by Jordan Williams from Riley Neal, cutting the lead to 24-10 with 11:12 left in the contest. The Cardinals had a chance to cut the lead further, but Hagge’s 36-yard field attempt with 5:34 missed badly to the right.
Toledo then gained 57 yards and four first downs to run out the clock to clinch the win.
The Rockets return home next week, hosting Kent State for Homecoming.