Senior quarterback Logan Woodsidethrew for 361 yards as the Toledo Rockets overcame a determined Northern Illinois squad, 27-17, in a critical Mid-American Conference battle.
With the victory, Toledo (8-1, 5-0 MAC) claims sole possession of first place in the MAC’s West Division, one game ahead of NIU (6-3, 4-1 MAC), a team that had knocked UT out of the conference title race numerous times in the past decade.Woodside completed 23 of 31 passes on his way to setting the Toledo record for career passing yards. He ended the day with 9,288 career passing yards, 62 more than previous record-holder Bruce Gradkowski (9,225 from 2002 to 2005).
Senior Terry Swanson reached a milestone of his own, becoming the seventh Rocket to rush for more than 3,000 yards in his career. Swanson was a workhorse, running the ball a career-best 29 times for 116 yards and three touchdowns, also a career high. He has 3,082 yards in his four-year career.
Toledo trailed early in the third quarter, 14-10, but outscored the Huskies 17-3 the rest of the way. Swanson scored twice in the third quarter to give UT a 24-14 edge heading into the final quarter.
The Rockets’ defense stepped up when it needed to, forcing NIU into a 47-yard field-goal attempt that missed with 3:46 to play that sealed the Huskies’ fate. Senior cornerback Trevon Mathis snagged a pair of interceptions for the first time in his career, while senior defensive end Olasunkanmi Adeniyi had a career-high 10 tackles and one sack.Toledo scored on its opening possession of the game on an eight-play, 81-yard drive. Swanson finished it off with a four-yard TD run. The Huskies answered later in the quarter on a one-yard run by Tre Harbison that capped a 70-yard NIU drive.
The Rockets missed an excellent chance to score in the second quarter when a 10-yard TD run by Woodside was reviewed and ruled a fumble before he crossed the goal line. The Rockets began the drive on their own one-yard line, but turned the field around on an 89-yard catch and run by Diontae Johnson.
Toledo took a 10-7 lead into the locker room following a 22-yard field goal by Jameson Vest.
The Huskies marched down the field quickly on their first possession of the second half, ignited by chunk runs of 29, 14 and 19 before Childers finished off the seven-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard run to give NIU its first lead, 14-10. The Rockets immediately answered with a 13-yard touchdown run by Swanson to re-take the lead with 8:55 left in the third quarter.
Less than four minutes later, Toledo extended the lead to 24-14 on a one-yard dive by Swanson. The big play on the drive was a 31-yard completion from Woodside to senior Darryl Richards that pushed him past Gradkowski to become Toledo’s career passing yardage leader.
Northern came up with a big play on special teams that brought them to within a touchdown. Jackson Abresch blocked Bailey Flint’s punt attempt deep in Toledo territory, recovering the ball on the UT 11-yard line. However, Toledo’s defense came up big and forced NIU to settle for a 25-yard field goal, making the score 24-17.
Toledo answered once again with a 34-yard field goal by Vest with 8:58 left in the game to up the Rocket lead to 27-17. Northern’s fate was sealed when its ensuing drive stalled, forcing a 47-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide right with 3:46 to play. UT ate up most the clock on its final possession before punting it away with 1:28 left. The Huskies advanced to the UT 25-yard line when time ran out.
The Rockets will travel to Ohio next Wednesday to face the East Division co-leader Bobcats (7-2, 4-1 MAC).