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Military Bowl Recap: Two-Point Subversion

Last year at the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl, the Toledo Rockets scored a touchdown against Florida International with 1:14 on the clock. Instead of kicking the PAT to tie it, Tim Beckman channeled his inner Tom Amstutz, and went for two. It worked... sorta. Terrance Owens hit Eric Page for the deuce, but they couldn't stop the Golden Panthers from taking that minute, marching down the field, and kicking a 34-yard field goal as time expired for the win.

This year, the Rockets had a 42-35 lead over the Air Force Academy in the Military Bowl, and had the Falcons on a 4th down on the Rockets 33 yard line, when Tim Jefferson Jr. found Jonathan Warzeka on a TD pass. They lined up for the PAT, but on the hike, the holder picked up the ball and started to run. Could it be that the Rockets would lose another one in the final minutes?

Not this time.

In a year where small things seemed to go against the Rockets (I sometimes still look at Youtube videos of that extra point), finally fate smiled on Toledo. The holder's attempt to pitch the ball to the placekicker instead hit the turf and rolled out of bounds. The 2 point conversion was no good, and Toledo was able to run out the clock to get the 42-41 win.

It's easy to look at that play and say Toledo didn't necessarily win the game as did Air Force lose it. But to say that does a disservice to one hell of a game played by the Rockets: Bernard Reedy had 4 catches, 3 of them touchdowns, 126 yards total. Adonis Thomas had 108 yards on 22 touches and a TD. Eric Page returned a kickoff for a score that started his name trending worldwide on Twitter. Jermaine Robinson had a pick-6. Toledo would not be denied their points.

But the defense gave up a little too much. Part of that was injury: not only was TJ Fatinikun unavailable, but Johnny Roberts and Jonathan Lamb both ended up on crutches, getting injured on the same play. That weakened the defensive line enough to allow the run option to get a foothold, they would gain 248 yards on the ground when it was all said and done, and beat out Toledo in time of possession by 10 minutes.

The win ushers in the Matt Campbell era on the right foot, even if that foot was nice and comfortable in the press box (For the record, Campbell said he stayed in the booth because that's where he was all year, and didn't want to change too much for the players. Hell, it worked, didn't it?). It also improves Toledo to a 9-3 all-time bowl record, and it gives the MAC their third bowl win. We'll have to wait until January to see if Northern Illinois can make it four.