Sophomore wide receiver Alonzo Russell pulled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Terrance Owens with 1:22 left and the Toledo defense held off Bowling Green in the final minute as the Rockets defeated their rivals, 28-25, at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green Saturday.It was the fourth consecutive victory over the Falcons for UT’s seniors and keeps Toledo (5-3, 3-1 MAC) in the hunt for the Mid-American Conference West Division title.
Toledo led 21-0 in the first half, but Bowling Green rallied to take a 25-21 lead with 5:59 to play. Owens then led Toledo on a 10-play, 70-yard drive that turned out to be decisive. Late in the drive, UT faced a third-and-26 from the BGSU 28-yard line and Owens came through. First he scrambled 17 yards to the 11-yard line to make it fourth-and-nine. Then he hit Russell across the middle to give the Rockets a three-point cushion.
Bowling Green (5-3, 3-1 MAC) had one last chance to win the game, but Matt Johnson’s pass on fourth-and-13 from the BGSU 32-yard line fell incomplete.
The Rockets were led by Owens, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Russell, who led all receivers with eight catches. Owens also ran for 59 yards. Freshman Kareem Hunt rushed for 114 yards and one score. Senior David Fluellen added 61 yards on just three carries, but he left the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Junior linebacker Junior Sylvestre was dominant, racking up three sacks and a game-high 12 tackles.
Toledo got off to a great start, scoring on its first three possessions of the first half on long drives while stopping the Falcons on their initial three offensive forays. In fact, the only time Toledo failed to score in the first 30 minutes was when it ran out the clock with just 16 seconds left.
Bowling Green took the opening kickoff and advanced to the UT 23-yard line before failing to convert on fourth-and-10. Toledo took over on downs and two plays later Fluellen careened 47 yards down to the BG 30-yard line, setting up a one-yard TD plunge by Hunt a few plays later. Unfortunately, Fluellen hurt his left ankle on the drive and never returned to the game. But Hunt took over, gaining big chunks of yardage throughout the game.
Toledo made it 14-0 on an 18-play 89-yard drive that was extended thanks to a critical penalty by the Falcons. Jeremiah Detmer converted on a 35-yard field goal, but the play was called back due to roughing the kicker. Toledo took advantage of the mistake four plays later when Owens hooked up with Russell, who pulled in a five-yard pass in the corner with one hand for the score.The Rockets made it 21-0 on its next possession on a terrific leaping catch by Reedy in the back of the end zone from nine yards out.
BGSU finally broke into the scoring column late in the first half, finishing off a 12-play, 81-yard drive on a third-and-one QB sneak by Johnson to cut Toledo’s lead to 21-7 going into halftime.
The momentum changed in the second half as Toledo’s offense had a difficult time moving the ball and BGSU’s offense came to life.
Bowling Green got its first break of the game on Toledo’s opening drive of the second half on a fumble by Owens. Owens was hit by Gabe Martin as he was about to release a pass, and the Falcons recovered on UT’s 29-yard line. A two-yard BGSU touchdown by Johnson was called back after a replay review ruled the ball never crossed the goal line. The Falcons settled for a 23-yard field goal after an illegal procedure penalty moved them back to the six-yard line, cutting the lead to 21-10 with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
Bowling Green running back Travis Greene scored twice on a pair of seven-yard runs in the fourth quarter to give the Falcons their first lead of the game. The second came with 5:59 left in the game, setting up Toledo’s last-minute heroics.
The Rockets return to action Saturday, Nov. 2, when they host Eastern Michigan in the Glass Bowl.