The weather was bad, and so was the football in the first half. At least it was if you are a Toledo fan. OU wants to win football games the old way. Tough defense and running the football. Weather doesn’t matter, and records don't either, as the Bobcats picked up their first road victory against the Rockets for the first time since 1967 by a final score of 31-26.
Throughout the game, both teams showed stark contrasts in terms of philosophy; OU punted on a 4th and 16 at one point. That’s understandable, except they punted from the Toledo 33.
In this day and age in college football, a lot of coaches would go for it in that situation. Toledo got the ball at their 6 and marched down the field, before getting a 4th and 4 at the Ohio 30. Instead of going for the field goal, they chose to go for it, and failed.
After some more punts, I was alternately dozing off and doodling in my notebook when the Toledo secondary dozed off and gave up a 57 yard scoring strike from Quinton Maxwell to Kyle Belack.
Logan Woodside threw an interception and there was another OU punt. On the ensuing drive Woodside had a long pass to Cory Jones. With the help of a pass interference penalty, Toledo was in the red zone for the first time. The Bobcats defense was able to buckle down and held them to a field goal.
Even though he was leading, OU coach Frank Solich brought in senior quarterback Greg Windham. He marched OU down the field with his legs and then threw a 33 yard TD pass to Sebastian Smith, despite pass interference by Toledo. That put OU up 14-3.
Toledo ended the scoring of the first half with a career long 47 yard field goal by Jameson Vest.
Greg Windham started the second half for OU, and moved the ball to the Rockets 36. They punted on 4th and 8 and pinned Toledo at the 3. Not happy with that, Toledo committed a penalty and put the ball on the 2.
Jon’Vea Johnson then went 98 yards on a pass from Logan Woodside, which set a new Toledo record for a scoring play.
Windham was hurt on a short run in the next series, and Maxwell had to come in on a third and 7. Maxwell responded by throwing a 37 yard pass and then a 25 yard touchdown to Papi White, to put Ohio up 21-13 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
After a few nice runs by Terry Swanson, Logan Woodside decided he didn’t want to break Bruce Gradkowksi’s single season passing touchdown record with a cheap throw at the end of the drive. He marched the Rockets down the field with his arm and pulled the Rockets within one.
A nice OU drive and a field goal put the Bobcats up 24-20 with one quarter left to play.
The philosophy of tough man football is that you wear your opponent down. OU running back Dorian Brown proved that philosophy correct. After a few good runs and a nice pass from Maxwell on a third and 10, he ran past a tired Toledo defense for a 51 TD scamper. It put OU up, 31-20, an insurmountable lead against defense as good as the Bobcats.
Toledo’s Logan Woodside was not going to go down without a fight. He marched the Rockets down the field. After a touchdown pass, the Rockets were denied a 2 point conversion because Johnson stepped out of bounds before he caught the pass.
31-26 with 3:28 left.
Tom Candle, the Rockets coach, was left with a huge decision. Onside kick, or trust your defense that has given up almost 500 total yards, and 204 yards to Dorian Brown? He chose to kick off.
After a first down by the Bobcats, the Toledo defense got a stop and forced an OU punt with 1:48 left in the game.
What remained was the ultimate football fight. The tough, old school defense, vs the high scoring offense, with weapons all over the field.
Toledo needed 75 yards to win the game. They only got to the OU 44. The last play was a Toledo penalty.
While the old school football doesn’t win every game, it won tonight. It also showed the MAC East wasn’t as bad as projected, and the MAC West wasn’t NFL light.
What the fan of MACtion got was a great football game between contrasting styles. Old school OU running back ended up with 212 yards and 1 TD. Pass-happy Toledo Quarterback Logan Woodside finished the game with 438 yards, 3 touchdowns and only 1 pick.
Jon’Vea Johnson had another monster day, with 6 receptions for 156 yards (a whopping 26 yards per reception) and 2 touchdowns. The most important stats, however were more difficult to account for.
OU’s defense played well, even though they gave up 560 yards to the Rockets. The Rockets offense was sloppy, even though they only had 2 turnovers and moved the ball.
One thing is for certain: the race for the division titles just got a whole lot muddier.