The Toledo Rockets, expected to be one of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference, kicked off their 2021 season against the Norfolk State Spartans, a team which was welcoming a new head coach and hadn’t played since 2019, within the friendly confines of The Glass Bowl, taking home a 49-10 victory on Saturday night.
Toledo got the scoring started quickly as their star back Bryant Koback topped off a seven play, 52-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Rockets would find a special a special teams touchdown soon after, as Maxen Hook picked up a blocked punt and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
Norfolk State would respond as their all-MEAC first team QB Juwan Carter found Justin Smith for a 42-yard touchdown pass, capping off a solid nine play, 75-yard drive which took 5:29 off the clock.
Toledo would add another special teams touchdown with 13:50 to play in the second quarter, as this time it was Jacquez Stuart returning a deflected NSU kick 14 yards for a touchdown.
Reserve Rocket QB DeQuan Finn capped the first half’s scoring, breaking off a 24-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds to go in the first half. It capped off a 14 play, 88-yard drive and sent the Rockets into the half, up 28-7 on Norfolk State.
Toledo would pick up in the second half where they left off in the first half, as Koback broke free for another six-yard touchdown run, his second on the game. It capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive.
Carter Bradley would showcase the Rockets quick strike potential, hitting receiver Devin Maddox for a 84-yard score on the drive’s first and only play.
A Josh Nardone 32-yard field goal would finish off the Spartan scoring with 11:01 to play in the game, to put NSU down 42-10.
Jacquez Stuart got his second touchdown of the game, this time of the running variety, as he went 15 yards to the endzone to cap off a eight play, 80 yard drive with 7:35 to play.
It would also cap the scoring with the Rockets sailing to 49-10 victory.
Carter Bradley was 8-of-12 for 183 yards and a touchdown. Dequan Finn was 4-of-5 for 38 yards and added 83 yards rushing and a touchdown to pace the Rockets. Georgia Tech transfer Tucker Gleason also played late in the game.
Juwan Carter was 9-of-19 passing for 134 with a touchdown and a pick for the Spartans.
On the ground, after Finn’s 83 yards, Bryant Koback had 52 yards on just nine carries, picking up two touchdowns. Micah Kelly had seven carries for 46 yards while Jacquez Stuart added a rushing touchdown.
Kevin Johnson had four carries for 58 yards for NSU but 52 came on a single carry.
Receiving Devin Maddox had two receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown, which came on the 84-yard pass play. Koback had three receptions out of the backfield. Eight Rockets had receptions in the victory. Justin Smith’s three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown paced NSU.
Jonathan Jones and Jamal Hines had seven tackles a piece while D’Andre Ragin and Desjuan Johnson combined for a sack. Samuel Womack had the interception for the Rockets. NSU was led defensively by Tyler Long with 11 tackles, Amadeu Vital had a sack and a half for the Spartans.
Toledo’s Thomas Cluckey was seven-of-seven on PAT’s.
Toledo outgained NSU 441 to 281. Due to Toledo’s quick strike offense and the Spartans insistence to run the ball, Norfolk State won the time of possession battle.
Somewhat alarming is that Toledo was penalized 12 times.
Toledo will travel to Notre Dame to face the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame, who just beat Florida State, is ranked in the top 10 nationally. The game will be a unique one, being the first college football game offered exclusively on Peacock.