It was a beautiful November night for the Battle of I-75. We still wish this game was on a Saturday. Here’s what went down:
- Bowling Green won the coin toss and deferred, giving Toledo the first possession. The Rockets marched down the field quickly, with Dequan Finn’s 23-yard rushing touchdown capping the drive just 1:54 into the game.
- The Falcons only needed two plays on their ensuing drive to respond, as Connor Bazelak found Harold Fannin, Jr. for a 56-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7-7. Only 2:45 had elapsed through the first two drives.
- Both teams would trade punts on their second drives.
- After the Falcons forced another Rocket punt, the Falcons got inside the five-yard line. Camden Orth came into the game, faked the run, and found Harold Fannin Jr. for his second touchdown catch of the game. After the PAT, the score was 14-7 Falcons.
- Despite the Rockets moving the ball, they would have settle for a field goal attempt to start the second quarter. Luke Pawlak nailed the 39-yarder to cut the Falcons lead to 14-10.
- The Falcons offense brimmed with confidence on their next two drives, as Camden Orth and Ta’Ron Keith both punched in short rushing touchdowns to extend the BGSU lead— the latter of which was set up by a magical Connor Bazelak fourth-down conversion to Harold Fannin Jr. The run was sandwiched by a fierce defensive effort, with the Falcons forcing a turnover-on-downs to give the ball right back to the offense.
- Toledo was driving down three scores, but an inopportune face mask penalty dashed any hope of putting points on the board before halftime. The Falcons went into the locker room up 28-10 after 30 minutes.
- BG would receive the second half kickoff, but stuttered on the possession, punting the ball almost immediately to start the second half. The attempt was shanked, and the Rockets would need just two plays to score off it, with Dequan Finn finding Junior Vandeross III for a touchdown strike to cut the BG lead to 28-17.
- Things would get even more dicey for the Falcons, with Toledo forcing and recovering a fumble and an untimely sack giving Toledo get more momentum. Toledo was struggling just as much; BGSU’s defense forced a punt and a turnover-on-downs just past midfield on the two opportunistic possessions.
- Peny Boone would break the game open in the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown run to cap off a six-play, 89-yard drive ran primarily in up-tempo. Head coach Jason Candle opted to go for two, and the players paid off the bet, with Anthony Torres hauling in the conversion to put the score at 28-25.
- The Falcons got the ball back, desperate for answers on offense— but would end up going three-and-out instead.
- Toledo had all the momentum and it seemed like there was no stopping them. The Falcon defense did what they do best: take away the ball. Jordan Oladokun would come up with the interception to keep the Falcons afloat.
- Camden Orth would take over for the next Falcon drive at quarterback, leading the Falcons in Toledo territory— but a holding call would kill off their momentum, as they eventually settled for a 40-yard field goal from Alan Anaya to increase their lead to 31-25 with 7:30 to go.
- The Rockets got the ball back with an opportunity to take the lead, but as they had all night, BGSU’s defense came up big, with Cashius Howell picking up his 9.5th sack to eventually force another punt.
- The Falcons couldn’t make anything of the stop however, quickly going three-and-out.
- With 4:36 to go, Toledo had the ball back and it was shaping up to be like last year’s game. The Rockets were faced with a fourth-and-short at their own 41-yard line, needing two yards to convert and keep the drive alive. Instead, Jacquez Stewart freed himself in the middle of the field and Finn hit him between the numbers. Stewart would sprint towards the sideline then turn on the afterburners, picking up 59 yards for the touchdown, putting the score at 32-31 Rockets with 1:45 to go.
- BGSU would get the ball back with 1:41 left, but their offense, which had struggled throughout the second half, would need to pull a rabbit out of the hat with one timeout to use. They ultimately couldn’t figure it out, as on fourth-and-17, the Falcons threw a desperate heave well short of the sticks and right towards a Toledo defender, who juggle the ball before it fell harmlessly to the turf. Toledo would run out the clock to take back the Battle of I-75 Trophy.
Let’s take a look at some takeaways for this game:
- Inconsistency hit the Falcons once again. You can come up with any reason for the second half struggles, but they had many chances to get that score they needed to change the second half trajectory. Ultimately, they looked exhausted, and they couldn’t get it done.
- The Falcons were flying high, and everything shifted after that horrid first drive of the second half. This loss just creates more questions than answers of what happened, and what this means going forward. Just pure heartbreak after a great first half.
- Cashius Howell is legit. He had two sacks to bring his total to 9.5. He’s just a half-sack shy of matching Karl Brooks’ total from last season.
- Harold Fannin Jr. put on a show once again, with 89 yards and two touchdowns on the night, helping to give BGSU a lot of early momentum in the first half. His performance added on to his case of potentially being the best tight end in the MAC.
- The quarterbacks threw for 309 yards, with both Connor Bazelak and Camden Orth throwing one touchdown each. Orth ran for one touchdown as well. Finishing the game, however, left a lot to be desired. That’s been a running pattern for BGSU all year, and with just one regualr season game left, it’s unlikely to be fixed.
- How healthy is this group? Bazelak is banged up, Joseph Sipp was banged up, and Terion Stewart is still out.
- Dequan Finn became the sixth FBS quarterback with 2,000+ pass yards and 500+ rush yards for the season during the contest, cementing his case for MAC Player of the Year. Finn finished the night 20-of-30 passing for 279 yards and two passing touchdowns, while also picking up a rushing touchdown.
- Toledo, as they have all season, found a way to get it done. This time, they outscored the Falcons 22-3 in the second half in order to make their comeback. A good team wins in all fashions, and Toledo can check this one off the list.
- Toledo has now won ten-straight games. They’re still looking to make their case to be ranked in the College Football Playoff Poll (which came out during tonight’s game), and make their case for a New Year’s Six. They also become the first ten-win team in the MAC Championship game since Buffalo in 2018.
- Peny Boone took 15 carries for 131 yards and one touchdown, continuing his extremely efficient season. He’s a likely first-team All-MAC running back candidate.
Play of the Game
You could make the case for any of the plays in this game, but this goes to Dequan Finn and Jacquez Stewart. Finn found a wide open Stewart, and Stewart took it in for game tying score. This would propel the Rockets to the PAT that gave them the lead, and the win. (Credit: MACSports/X)
Each team has one game left in the regular season.
Tuesday, November 21st
Bowling Green at Western Michigan, Time and Network TBD
Friday, November 24th
Toledo at Central Michigan, 12:00 p.m., Network TBD