Junior running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns to lead Toledo to a critical 28-23 victory over Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant Tuesday evening
The victory keeps Toledo (8-1, 5-1 MAC) alive in the hunt for Mid-American Conference West Division crown and all but eliminates the Chippewas (5-5, 4-2 MAC).Hunt’s first touchdown was a 41-yard run in the first quarter that put the Rockets up, 14-0, while his second TD was a three-yard plunge in the fourth quarter that helped give UT its winning cushion.
Hunt was complemented by senior quarterback Phillip Ely, who completed 23 of 39 passes for 322 yards and two scores. His primary target was senior wideout Alonzo Russell, who tallied four receptions and a team-high 86 yards.
Toledo’s defense held CMU to just 59 yards rushing, forcing the Chippewas into a one-dimensional attack. Senior cornerbacks Cheatham Norrils (seven tackles, one interception, two pass breakups) and Christian Dukes (six tackles, two breakups) led the defense.
Toledo wasted no time getting on the board, driving 70 yards in 12 plays on its opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. The final two yards came on a shovel pass from Ely to tight end Michael Roberts. Two possessions later, Hunt took it to the house on a 41-yard TD romp, his longest rush of the season, making it 14-0 with 1:48 left in the first quarter.
The Rockets pushed the lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter on a 36-yard strike on a scramble from Ely to Diontae Johnson.
CMU finally got on the board with 9:30 left in the half when Brian Eavey hit a career-long 48-yard field goal to trim the lead to 21-3. The Chippewas caught a break on their next drive when Jay Roberson fumbled the ball into the end zone on a short run from the two-yard line, but it was recovered by right tackle Derek Edwards in the end zone to make the score 21-10.
The Chips scored on their second possession of the third quarter to move to within four points, 21-17. Corey Willis capped a six-play, 92-yard drive with a 23-yard TD catch from Cooper Rush. Willis lost the ball near the goal line after the catch, but officials ruled that he crossed the plane.
Toledo then missed an opportunity to add points to the board on its next drive when Jameson Vest pushed a 21-yard field-goal attempt wide right.
The Rockets’ defense came up big on Central’s next two drives. The Chippewas advanced to the UT two-yard line on a 33-yard scramble by Rush. But an offensive pass interference call and a 16-yard sack by Ja’Wuan Woodley forced CMU to attempt a 51-yard field goal, which came up short. A short while later, CMU drove to the UT 47-yard line, but Dukes broke up a pass on fourth-and-four.
Toledo’s offense then got in gear with a 10-play, 64-yard drive that was finished off on a three-yard run by Hunt, giving UT a 28-17 lead with 7:01 to play. Hunt had 42 yards rushing on five carries in the drive.
CMU stayed alive with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that was capped off by a five-yard TD catch by Anthony Rice from Rush with 3:26 left. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 28-23.
The Rockets next travel to Bowling Green Tuesday, Nov. 17, for the I-75 Rivalry battle with their arch-rivals. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.