Toledo was in prime position for a game-winning possession.
Running back Bryant Koback broke through traffic and landed at the 20 to put the Rockets into the red zone with just over a minute left. One problem. BYU stripped Koback as he was going down to the ground and controlled possession. With a minute left after the promising drive stalled, Toledo needed a hero on defense.
Enter Kahlil Robinson. BYU quarterback Zach Wilson fired the first pass of the Cougars’ newly gifted drive in the middle of the field, and Robinson impeccably positioned himself to be the recipient. Ball tucked in hand, the senior sprinted to the right sideline 40 yards, meeting a BYU tackler inside the 5. The next play, Toledo running back Shakif Seymour bullied his way for the game-winning score to propel the Rockets to a thrilling 28-21 victory.
Just three years after the same programs delivered a 55-53 shootout in Provo, another exciting finish transpired in the Glass Bowl. This game, however, was more defensive focused.
To set up the drive which resulted in a Koback fumble, Toledo recorded a vital stop as the Cougars were asserting themselves in Rocket territory. Cornerback Sam Womack impressed all day with two pass break-ups in the end zone, but defending BYU’s 4th-and-6 pass in 1-on-1 coverage with under five minutes left was his finest work.
Outside of a 75-yard pass from Wilson to Aleva Hifo to open the third quarter, Toledo’s defense delivered. That touchdown pass put the Cougars up 14-3 in the second half, forcing Toledo to claw back from a double-digit second half deficit. The only other score the defense allowed in the second half involved BYU facing a short-field after a Toledo muffed punt.
The defensive prowess allowed the Rocket offense to receive a myriad of opportunities. Down 14-6 after a pair of Evan Davis field goals, head coach Jason Candle decided to gamble to initiate the comeback. Candle elected to keep the offense on the field on 4th down, and taking the risk more than paid off. Quarterback Mitchell Guadagni completed an 18-yard screen pass to Seymour who waltzed into the end zone for his first of two touchdowns.
But Candle wasn’t done at the blackjack table. He decided to continue the offense’s momentum by sending the offense out to go for two, and Guadagni fired an out route pass to tight end Reggie Gilliam on a well-drawn up screen to tie it at 14 apiece.
BYU’s offense stalled for the remainder of the contest, excluding for the 3-play, 23-yard drive spurred by the fake punt. After the muff, Hifo scored the last of the three Cougar touchdowns — his second of the afternoon — via a 3-yard pass from Wilson. Hifo led all wideouts with 111 receiving yards on five catches in a solid outing.
Toledo kept its offense balanced and versatile, running for 242 yards and passing for 206. In a phenomenal all-around day by the junior halfback, Seymour led the Rockets with a season-high 96 rushing yards, totaling 114 from scrimmage. Koback added 88 and a touchdown, while Guadagni scrambled for 54.
In the receiving department, the trio of Bryce Mitchell, Danzel McKinley-Lewis, and Desmond Phillips contributed a combined 13 receptions and 161 yards. Toledo’s skill position players all enjoyed statement performances in the Rockets first FBS win at the Glass Bowl this season. Pitted up against a BYU defense which caused problems for several offenses, including Tennessee and USC, Toledo managed to score 25 second half points after a slow first half start.
Although Toledo lost the turnover battle 3-1, the Rockets came up with the most important turnover of the game on Robinson’s interception. And because of that, Toledo heads into conference play 3-1.