Central Michigan (1-4, 0-1 MAC West) lined up for a 42-yard field goal on the first drive of the game after pushing the ball 37 yards on an effective 10-play drive, with Marshall Meeder kicking the attempt true down the middle to give the Chips an early 3-0 lead against the Toledo Rockets (3-2, 1-0 MAC West).
It was the only lead the Chips would wind up having on the day, as the Rockets would tie them with a field goal on the next possession and never look back, taking home a lovely 38-17 result in front of a Homecoming crowd on Saturday afternoon.
The two teams would stay tied at 3-3 through the end of the first quarter, with the teams exchanging two punts each over the next four possessions. Toledo did manage to get to the CMU one-yard line before quarter’s end on a nine-yard Micah Kelly run, setting up the team’s first touchdown of the day on a flip pass from Dequan Finn to Jamal Turner to put the Rockets up 10-3 at the start of the second frame.
The Rockets poured it on from there, as a combination of Chippewa miscues on offense and a porous and tired defense allowed Toledo to score 21 more points before the end of the half, with Micah Kelly and Jacquez Stuart short rushing scores sandwiching a Finn pass to Demeer Blankumsee from 11 yards out to put the halftime tally at 31-3.
CMU managed to stop the bleeding with a seven-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a highlight reel score for Noah Koenigsnecht on a 46-yard strike from Daniel Richardson to put the score at 31-11 about halfway through the third quarter, with the duo combining again for the two-point conversion.
CMU’s defense stood tall on the ensuing possession, gifting the offense the ball on a three-and-out, but after a 15-play, 41-yard drive lasting well over six minutes, the Chips were unable to convert, as Daniel Richardson once again fumbled on a sack, with Toledo’s Darius Alexander nabbing the turnover to kill the drive.
Asked to stop the Rockets offense again, CMU’s defense answered the call once again, giving the offense another possession on the Toledo 29-yard line.
This time, CMU would take advantage, with Joel Wilson and Daniel Richardson connecting on an 18-yard pass to bring the score to 31-17 after Marshall Meeder pushed the extra point attempt.
They wouldn’t get in position to score again after that, as more miscues and penalties stunted any potentially promising drives.
Toledo would get one last touchdown on a bizarre fumble recovery play, which saw Dequan Finn streak through the CMU defense for a 37-yard run before CMU safety Jayden Davis punched the ball out in front of the goal line. Toledo receiver Thomas Zsiros wound up with the recovery, bringing the tally up to 38-17, which would be the final score.
It was an ignominious loss for the Chippewas, as CMU was called for 11 penalties for 105 yards, negating several big plays in the process. It also extended their winless streak at the Glass Bowl to at least 16 years, as they haven’t won in Toledo since 2008, and was the ninth time in 13 seasons the team lost their league-opener game,
The possession which gave Toledo the chance to get another score was gifted by a Joel Wilson fumble on a short reception— one play after CMU defensive tackle John Wesley Whiteside recovered a fumble on a Dequan Finn tackle-for-loss attempt.
It was a pattern on the day for the Chippewas, who had three fumbles— all lost— while also turning the ball over twice on downs.
Toledo, to their credit, looked every part the potential MAC West title contender, taking advantage of CMU’s miscues with incredibly efficient play on both sides of the ball, scoring directly off all but one turnover on the day while posting 447 yards of total offense in a balanced, spread-out effort.
Daniel Richardson did play through the whole game after sustaining an injury in the last moments of the Penn State game, finishing 25-of-46 for 252 yards and two touchdowns. getting sacked four times, with two fumbles.
Carlos Carriere led the team in receptions (seven), picking up 54 yards. Division II transfer Noah Koenigsknecht led the team with 71 yards and a score on three receptions. Joel Wilson had four catches for 43 yards and the other receiving score. Lew Nichols led CMU with 32 yards on 18 carries.
Ronald Kent and Trey Jones tied for the team lead with 10 tackles each for CMU, with Kent providing the lone pass break-up while Jones led the team with two tackles-for-loss. Thomas Incoom had the team’s one sack.
Dequan Finn had his way with the CMU defense, finishing with 13-of-23 for 186 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and 84 yards on 12 carries on the ground, nearly scoring on the fumbled play at the end of the game.
Demeer Blankumsee once again led the Rocket attack, with 65 receptions on five catches, scoring once. Devin Maddox (two catches, 53 yards) and Jerjuan Newton (three catches, 49 yards) were also contributors, with Jamal Turner hauling in a receiving score. Jacquez Stuart led all backs with 122 net yards and a score on 16 carries, while Micah Kelly had a score on 64 yards and 12 carries.
Dallas Gant led all tacklers with 13, picking up two pass break-ups as well, leading the Rockets alongside Jamal Hines. Adrian Wolliver had two tackles-for-loss and two sacks to lead Toledo, with Judge Culpepper and Cavon Butler each contributing sacks. The defense recovered and forced three fumbles as well, giving Toledo a +2 turnover margin.
The Chippewas will host Ball State next week, in a game set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, while the Rockets get set to take on the NIU Huskies on the road in a contest also set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.