It was a tale of two halves for Toledo, but in the end their first half woes was just too much to overcome.
The Bearcats got off to a hot start, scoring 34 unanswered points to start the game. Toledo's defense struggled to stop new quarterback Gunner Kiel who finished 25 for 37 for 428 yards and a school record six touchdowns. Kiel looked magnificent in his long awaited debut for the Bearcats.
When Toledo had the ball early, it wasn't pretty and the Bearcats were scoring at will. Toledo's best scoring opportunity came in the first quarter when Toledo went on a 69 yard drive that ended in a missed 28 yard field goal by usually reliable kicker J.D. Detmer.
Overall, it was a tough first half for the Rockets defense, however the offense played well all game considering the circumstances. Toledo put together their first scoring drive in the middle of the second quarter, capped off by a three yard rush from Kareem Hunt. Kareem Hunt had another solid game tallying 101 yards on the ground and 1 touchdown. Hunt left the game with an injury, however coach Campbell said post game that he is "OK".
However, Toledo's defense just did not play well enough. In the first half alone, Toledo's defense gave up 420 yards. The Bearcats were forced to punt just once in the entire first half.
Toledo had a slight glimmer of hope right before halftime as Logan Woodside found a wide open Alonzo Russell in the end zone to make it 41-14. Following the score Toledo's defense finally halted Cincinnati's offense, forcing their first punt of the game. In what was a blowout to this point, at least Toledo had a little momentum heading into halftime.
The second half was a completely different story for the Rockets, as they scored 17 unanswered points to start the second half. Woodside led the Rockets consistently down the field and slowly started to orchestrate a comeback.
Toledo was able to establish a more balanced attack in the second half once the new quarterback got his feet wet. Toledo's defense looked completely different in the second half and is a big reason why the Rockets were able to cut Cincinnati's lead to 10 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Down by 10, Woodside led the Rockets down the field with poise, completing a 42 yard pass to Justin Olack. It seemed that Toledo was an entirely different team. The Rockets were forced to settle on a field goal after Woodside dropped a pass in the end zone on a trick play, however they narrowed Cincinnati's lead to just seven points.
Woodside was open on the play, and when asked about it after the game he said:
"I guess that's why I'm a quarterback. Dwight Macon got a little mad after that, but I should have come up with that catch."
This was as close as the Rockets would get as Toledo lost all momentum after that. Gunner Kiel and all of his offensive weapons proved to be too much in the end. After giving Cincinnati all they have, the Rockets eventually fell to the Bearcats 58 to 34.
In the end, the Rockets just did not play well enough in the first half and it was too much for them to overcome. One positive for the Rockets, however, is that their new quarterback, Logan Woodside, looked competent and was not reckless with the ball. Although Woodside is not the flashiest quarterback, he proved tonight that he can be relied upon to start for the Rockets. Woodside finished the game 27 for 40 for 322 yards and 3 touchdowns. Woodside found star receiver Alonzo Russell wide open twice for touchdowns.
The Rockets fell to 1-2 on the year and with a home game against division opponent, Ball State, things don't get any easier for coach Campbell's banged up squad. The defense will have to step up if they want to have any chance against the Cardinals.