Sophomore Eli Peters led the Rocket offense to 531 yards of total offense, but it was the Toledo defense that shined most in a 45-13 victory over Ball State in the Glass Bowl Wednesday night.
The Rockets forced five turnovers, including a forced fumble that was recovered for a touchdown, in leading UT to victory over its West Division foe. Toledo also had four sacks and limited the Cardinals to just 94 yards rushing in 35 attempts.Peters, stepping in for the injured Mitchell Guadagni, completed 25 of 34 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns. He had three first-half interceptions, but settled down in the final 30 minutes, guiding the Rockets to victory in Guadagni’s place for the second time this season. Sophomore Art Thompkins led the rushing attack with 84 yards and one touchdown, while redshirt freshman Bryant Koback added 78 yards and two scores. Senior wide receiver Cody Thompson had six receptions for 75 yards and one TD, while junior Diontae Johnson chipped in with five grabs for an even 100 yards.
The defense was led by junior safety DeDarallo Blue and junior linebacker Jordan Fisher, each of whom had seven tackles. Freshman defensive end Terrance Taylor had three tackles for loss for 28 yards, and senior linebacker Richard Olekanma added two tackles for loss.
The victory keeps Toledo (5-4, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) in the race for the MAC West title behind Northern Illinois (4-0) and Western Michigan (4-1).Toledo jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter. The Rockets took advantage of a turnover on Ball State’s first possession and converted it into seven points. Willie Ross recovered a Cardinal fumble on the BSU 31-yard line, and the offense marched 69 yards in the other direction to take a 7-0 lead. Bryant Koback finished off the drive with a 19-yard TD run up the middle. Moments later, Diontae Johnson weaved his way downfield for a 57-yard gain on a short reception to the BSU 20-yard line. Two plays later, Art Thompkins rolled in from one-yard out to make the score 14-0 with 8:25 left in the first quarter.
The defense struck again when freshman defensive end Terrance Taylor strip-sacked BSU quarterback Drew Plitt on the Cardinal 16-yard line. Senior defensive endTuzar Skipper ran down and recovered the ball just as it crossed the corner of the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Rockets their third score in the first seven-plus minutes of the contest.Ball State got on the scoreboard following an interception on its own 30-yard line late in the first quarter.
A flurry of mid-range completions from Plitt moved the Cardinals quickly down the field to open the second period, culminating in an 18-yard TD pass to Riley Miller to trim the Rocket lead to 21-7. The two teams then traded interceptions, the Rockets’ pick coming from redshirt freshman Zach Ford deep in UT territory. The Rockets then traveled 81 yards in 10 plays, Koback finishing it off from three yards out for his second TD of the contest.
Neither team could sustain a drive for most the third quarter, with Toledo’s first possession ending in a Cardinal interception in the end zone and Ball State’s with a sack. The Rockets finally broke through with a 29-yard field goal from Jameson Vest near the end of the period. It was Vest’s 69th career field goal, breaking the Toledo record and giving UT a 31-7 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter, finishing off a six-play, 75-yard drive with an 11-yard TD run by Mailk Dunner. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score, 31-13 with 13:12 to play. Toledo answered quickly, as senior wide receiver Cody Thompson snagged a horizontal throw from Peters, then bolted 23 yards down the sideline to make the score, 38-13. UT finished up the scoring with a 41-yard TD pass from Peters to sophomore Bryce Mitchell.
The Rockets next hit the road to play at MAC West leader Northern Illinois in a showdown in DeKalb Wednesday, Nov. 7.