In its first contest away from the Glass Bowl in 2018, Toledo suffered in an unfamiliar environment. Three time zones away in Fresno, CA, the Rockets fell in a lopsided struggle to Fresno State, 49-27.
While the Bulldogs appeared on the scoreboard first thanks to 4-yard touchdown run, it was Toledo who looked superior on offense early. Mitch Guadagni’s showed off his developing arm on the Rockets’ second drive off the game, hitting Cody Thompson for 28 yards and finishing with a 19-yard touchdown pass to running back Shakif Seymour.
One stop and one interception in Fresno State territory later, Toledo was able to register six more points thanks to the leg of senior kicker Jameson Vest (46 and 43 yards). Although Toledo still notched points, struggling on third downs became a recurring theme for the Rockets throughout the night (5-15 finish).
What happened next is history. Fresno State racked up 42 unanswered points on a hapless Toledo defense — a defense fresh off of yielding 49 to Miami (FL) and 44 to Nevada at home. It wasn’t just the defense taking punches during this period though. Guadagni left the game for the rest of the night with an originally undisclosed injury, forcing Eli Peters to check into the game. The injury was later revealed to be a concussion, per the ESPNU broadcast.
The Bulldogs claimed a 14-13 lead on a touchdown pass from Marcus McMaryion to wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (no relation to Keyshawn Johnson) for seven yards. McMaryion registered two more touchdown passes before the half to set the Bulldogs up with a 28-13 advantage.
On the verge of the game getting out of hand, Fresno State ensured it did. McMaryion completed another touchdown pass to Johnson in the early third quarter, and then Fresno State’s defense made a key stop to seal the deal.
Peters’ pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and caught by defensive end Mykal Walker, who raced to the house for a 38-yard pick six.
To add insult to injury, McMaryion pulled out closing duties with a 6-yard touchdown run, and then Toledo failed to break the 42-0 run with a 37-yard missed field goal attempt.
There is no question how important Guadagni is to Toledo’s offense after the unit no-showed following his disappearance. From 63 points versus Nevada to 13 against Fresno State, it is evident how much his mobility and laser arm were missed. Before leaving with injury, the junior passed for 59 yards and one touchdown on 10 attempts and rushed for a team-high 55 yards — remaining the Rockets’ leading rusher in 2018.
With Peters in, the receivers weren’t getting their necessary touches. Cody Thompson only recorded one reception for 28 yards, while Diontae Johnson caught three balls for only 21. Peters completed 10-of-21 passes while playing the majority of the second quarter and the entire second half. He did complete two garbage time touchdowns to Jon’Vea Johnson of 54 and 25 yards, after the game was long decided. The morale-boosting touchdowns still didn’t spring the Rockets within the 10-point spread.
With the grueling loss, Toledo drops back to .500 at 2-2. The Rockets have yet to dip their toes in the water of conference play, but that all changes next week when they face their hated rival Bowling Green at home. Fresno State improves to 3-1 with the victory just two years after an FBS-worst 1-11 mark. The work Jeff Tedford has done for the program is incredible, and Bulldogs’ faithful will view this blowout win over the reigning MAC champs as a statement victory.