The Toledo Rockets earned a hard-fought 30-23, double-overtime victory over the Iowa State Cyclones of the Big 12 Conference on Saturday night at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. It was a roller-coaster ride for the Rocket faithful, and it gives Toledo a 2-0 record against Power 5 schools this season.
The Rockets controlled play against the Cyclones for most of the first three quarters. They built a 10-point lead and appeared well on their way to beating their second consecutive Power 5 opponent.
Then, the fourth quarter happened, and Toledo's lead disappeared. At the end, Iowa State lined up for a short field goal, and Matt Campbell's hopes to keep an undefeated record were all but dashed. Cole Netten, the Cyclones' kicker, had just nailed a 47-yard attempt minutes earlier.
A funny thing occurred when the ball left Netten's foot as regulation time expired -- it didn't go through the uprights. Somehow, Toledo survived to play in overtime, and they made the most of that opportunity.
The Rockets made their first drive of the game count, and running back Kareem Hunt got his season started in style. Hunt popped a 39-yard gain on his first carry, and that led to a 30-yard field goal by Jameson Vest.
After Iowa State tied the game 3-3 on their next drive, Toledo reeled off a 90-yard march to reclaim the lead. Phillip Ely provided the gas with a 24-yard pass to Corey Jones and then, two plays later, a 29-yard dart to Alonzo Russell. Russell then caught a three-yard scoring pass from Ely on third down for a 10-3 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Toledo's Cody Thompson blocked a Colin Downing punt, and he took the ball to the Cyclones' 2-yard line. The Rockets couldn't punch the ball in, however, and Vest drilled a 19-yard field goal for a 13-3 edge.
Iowa State narrowed the gap to 13-10 when Sam Richardson connected on a 59-yard pass to D'Vario Montgomery, and that score held through halftime thanks to dueling turnovers and a missed Vest field goal from 36 yards out.
Toledo opened the second half with a 67-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and a 20-10 lead. Hunt accounted for 31 of those yards, and Alex Zmolik recorded the touchdown on a fumble recovery.
From that point, the Rockets ran only 12 more offensive plays during regulation, as the Cyclones reeled off three long drives. The first two resulted in a touchdown and a field goal to even the game at 20. The last pushed the ball all the way to Toledo's 8 with less than 30 seconds left, but a false start penalty pushed ISU back. Netten then missed his kick, and overtime beckoned.
Toledo won the overtime coin toss and went on defense first. Neither team managed a first down in the first overtime period, and both posted successful field goals to send the game to a second extra frame, tied 23-23.
The Rockets went first on offense in overtime number two, and they converted a third down on a Damion Jones-Moore run. Jones-Moore then rumbled 10 yards for a touchdown and a 30-23 lead. The Rocket defense held Iowa State on downs to seal the victory.
Toledo earned 309 yards of total offense and was outgained by 172 yards. They also lost the time of possession battle, 21:46-38:18. However, they made the most of the blocked punt, the missed field goal, a turnover and 14 ISU penalties. Kareem Hunt was very impressive with 129 yards on 24 carries. However, he left with what appeared to be a hamstring injury in the second overtime, and his status going forward is in question.
The Rockets are now 2-0 and will host Arkansas State next Saturday. Arkansas State is coming off a 70-7 victory over FCS opponent Missouri State. Toledo will begin their MAC schedule in two weeks at Ball State.