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FINAL SCORE: Toledo 49, Eastern Michigan 23
EMU waxed at the Glass Bowl in front of everybody that Toledo's trying to impress.
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Toledo was 100% in control of that football game from start to finish. It even felt like the recent snub from the top 25 ranking in the College Football Playoff poll might’ve motivated the Rockets a little bit more on Wednesday night.
Sad for Eastern Michigan to have to come to the Glass Bowl under those conditions when things aren’t going so great at home. Toledo made it a point to show everybody watching that they’re the best Group of 5 team in the nation, 2-point loss to Illinois be damned.
And for those who watched EMU (4-6 overall, 2-4 MAC) make history last year with a nine-win season, they saw that things are far from what you might’ve hoped to see this year.
Toledo, 49 points. Eastern Michigan, 23. The score reads as a blowout, and it still wasn’t as close of a game as the scoreboard might’ve suggested.
No matter how you dice it up, Toledo is going to Detroit this year. Again, for the third time since Jason Candle has been the team’s head coach in 2017. All offseason, Eastern was gritting its teeth thinking about getting back at Toledo after its 27-24 comeback win last year at Rynearson.
But Toledo was more prepared than EMU could’ve imagined in a lot of ways.
Toledo, unranked, is playing like one of the nation’s best mid-majors, and it’s using this moment of mid-week MACtion to demand your attention between a 31-13 win over Buffalo last week and last night’s win over EMU.
There’s no other way to say it. Eastern just got flat-out out-played.
The scoreboard read 21-0 after the first quarter, 35-3 at the half. Eastern actually outscored Toledo in the second half 20-14, but it was all too little too late.
Seven of Toledo’s first eight drives on offense resulted in touchdowns, two of those drives started in EMU territory. EMU punted to end five of its first seven drives, then scored touchdowns on its final three.
Since there weren’t many of them, let’s hit on the EMU highlights early:
After starting the game down 35-0, Jesus Gomez got EMU on the board first with a 25-yard field goal right before halftime.
Running back Elijah Jackson-Anderson, whose name we hardly ever hear, got his first career touchdown on a 28-yard catch in the third quarter, EMU’s first touchdown of the game. The throw came out of the Wildcat formation with RB Samson Evans throwing the pass, the fifth TD pass of his career (first this year) for the former high school quarterback.
Jackson-Anderson led the team in receiving with that catch.
Jaylon Jackson and Dontae McMillan both added rushing scores in the fourth quarter. Jackson’s second of the season, McMillan’s first.
Cameron Smith intercepted one of Dequan Finn’s passes in the third quarter, his first career pick.
Defensive end Jaiden Gaines stripped the ball from UT backup QB Tucker Gleason for Chase Kline to recover the fumble.
That’s about it for EMU.
The rest of the game belonged to Finn and Peny Boone.
Seven of Finn’s 24 completions were 20+ yard gains. Boone, who caught two of those 20+ yarders, exclusively ran the ball on first down because Toledo saw so few third (5/7) and fourth downs (1/1). Finn went 23/27 passing for 407 passing yards with three touchdowns and one pick. Boone led the Rockets in receiving (4 rec., 116 yards) and rushing (11 att., 52 yards, 3 TD).
Two of Toledo’s drives in the first quarter started in EMU territory. The first came after a Quinyon Mitchell interception for the Rockets to need just 41 yards and a 10-yard catch by tight end Dalton Andrews to finish the drive. The second came after a 36-yard punt return by Jacquez Stuart set up a 1-play, 28-yard scoring drive for wide receiver Junior Vandeross III.
The short field scores were certainly helpful for Toledo to get some early scores, but the Rockets absolutely cleaned house on the longer drives. UT had touchdown drives of 82 yards, 87, 87, 52, 92, and 74 yards.
EMU’s longest scoring drive was of 67 yards, capped by Jackson-Anderson’s reception. That pass is in large part thanks to a 4th & 2 face mask penalty against Toledo that kept the drive alive. Otherwise, the drive would’ve ended on a failed toss play for Samson Evans.
EMU ran plays at 4.25 yards per play. Toledo’s average finished at 8.47.
On third downs, EMU was converted just 6 of its 15 third down attempts while Toledo was 5 of 7. Toledo did a good job of applying more pressure than EMU could handle on a lot of third-down stops.
QB Austin Smith went 9/24 passing for 86 yards.
J.B. Mitchell led the EMU wide receivers with 25 receiving yards on 2 catches. Tanner Knue caught 3 passes for 22 yards.
Penalties: EMU led the category, 7 for 53 yards lost. Toledo drew just 4 flags for 39 yards. In the third quarter, Korey Hernandez (and subsequently Chase Kline) drew a personal foul penalty when he pushed Boone by the face mask well after the long run play was over. In the fourth, Blake Daniels drew an unsportsmanlike when his team was getting into the end zone.
Kline led the defense with 13 tackles (5 solo), followed by E.J. Williams with 7.