Toledo (1-1) had their heart broken on the road at Illinois last week and took their anger out on Texas Southern (0-2) on Saturday night, setting several program records as they dominated the Tigers from start to finish at the Glass Bowl.
Toledo pretty much won this one as soon as they kicked off to get things underway. Jason Candle’s squad forced a three-and-out to start the game and marched right down the field for a touchdown on the legs of Peny Boone.
After forcing another punt, Toledo would move quickly down the field again and Boone would rush for his second touchdown of the game. For a moment, Boone had a statline of two carries, two yards and two touchdowns, serving as the Rockets goal line man early. He’d finish with three touchdowns and 39 yards on six carries.
During these first two drives, Toledo had a good mix of passing and rushing plays. Dequan Finn, who had just a few mistakes last week, didn’t make any as he led the Rockets down the field again and again in the first half. Finn only threw one incompletion all day and finished with 232 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-17 passing. His 94.1 completion percentage is the best in school history. Finn’s best play of the day came late in the first quarter when he aired a ball out to Jerjuan Newton for a 37-yard touchdown.
After the Toledo lead ballooned to 50-3 at the half, Jason Candle made the move to sit Finn and many more offensive starters. Even with some new faces on the field, the Rockets went right down the field for a score to start the third quarter. QB Tucker Gleason linked up with Larry Stephens for his second touchdown reception of the day. Gleason, like his battery mate Finn, would also finish with a good statline going 8-of-11 with 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Because of the out-of-hand scoreline, Jason Candle was able to give a few players some firsts. Running back Mike Drennen III scored a touchdown in his first Toledo appearance after transferring from Kentucky. Third-string freshman QB John Alan Richter also got in the game and went 3-of-4 with 49 yards in his first collegiate action. Tight end Dalton Andrews caught a touchdown for his first collegiate catch near the end of the first half.
Here are some numbers to show how good the Rockets offense was on Saturday: Toledo scored touchdowns on their first eight possessions of the game and scored ten on 11 drives overall. The 50 first half points were the most in school history and the 71 total were the most since 1951. It’s also the highest scoring performance by a MAC team since 2000.
Toledo was just as sound on defense as they were on offense.
Linebackers Dallas Gant and Terrance Taylor played a big role in stifling the Tigers early before being given a second half rest. A concern going into this game was Toledo’s ability to defend the run and they improved in that department Saturday. The Tigers ran for 141 yards but on 40 attempts which comes out to just 3.5 yards per carry.
The pass defense did not make things easy on Tigers QB Jace Wilson, who was filling in for injured starter Andrew Body. Senior defensive tackle Judge Culpepper had a big game with two sacks. The defensive backs allowed no separation for any of Texas Southern’s wide receivers. Wilson ended up completing just eight passes on 20 attempts for 92 yards.
The only successful drive of the day for Texas Southern came in the second quarter when they picked up three first downs and 59 yards on 12 plays leading to a field goal. The Tigers finished with 17 first downs overall, but couldn’t get back on the scoreboard.
The Rockets probably would have liked a more competitive game and a chance to redeem themselves against a better opponent after the loss at Illinois. Still, the Rockets made the most of the matchup with Texas Southern. Dequan Finn got a chance to sharpen his game and the defense was able to work out some kinks. Jason Candle also got in some reps for the QBs of the future and ten different players had a rushing attempt while 12 finished with a reception. 30 players in total got on the stat sheet on the defensive end.
Toledo will be looking to carry their home turf momentum when they take on San Jose State at the Glass Bowl next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Texas Southern will next take on Rice in Houston, also at 7 p.m. Saturday night.