By Adam Jacobs
A chilly November night served as the backdrop of a major MAC clash between the Toledo Rockets and Kent State Golden Flashes.
Toledo entered the contest 5-3 and 2-2 in the MAC whereas Kent State entered 3-5 and 2-2 in the MAC.
Despite both teams’ records, hope still remains for both sides as they find themselves alive in their respective races for a division title and possible MAC title.
The Rockets started quarterback Eli Peters for the second straight game and it almost immediately paid dividends.
After a quick three and out for the Golden Flashes, Peters drove the Rockets down the field in 9 plays and executed an option play to back Bryant Koback that froze the Golden Flash defense and went for a Rocket touchdown.
As the Golden Flashes came firing back to answer the Toledo score, third year running back Will Matthews fumbled the ball which resulted in a Rockets recovery.
After the takeaway, the Rockets wasted little time scoring their second touchdown of the game.
This score came in the form of an underneath pass to fourth year wide receiver Desmond Phillips who galloped 19 yards into the end zone untouched to give the Rockets a 14-0 lead.
Just as it seemed to be getting out of reach, the Golden Flashes found success in the air as quarterback Dustin Crum discovered receiver Kavious Price for a 52 yard catch and run. The Golden Flashes drive stalled, though, from the Toledo 6 and they settled for 3 to make the score 14-3.
The Golden Flashes were given another opportunity to cut into their deficit after a Rocket punt and delivered with a 70 yard touchdown pass from Crum to receiver Mike Carrigan.
The touchdown pass from Crum to Marrigan was the last score of what is now the highest combined scoring first quarter for the Rockets this season at 14-10.
The fireworks continued for both teams in the second quarter as well. The Rockets struck first in the second with a 2 yard Koback touchdown run, a run that culminated an 11 play 81 yard drive.
Back and forth the game went as the Golden Flashes came right back and refused to go down easy as they put together a nice scoring drive of their own. A 5 play 65 yard drive resulted in an 18 yard touchdown pass from Crum to running back Xavier Williams.
Toledo responded with yet another long touchdown drive. This time it was a 12 play 85 yard drive that found its end with a one yard Shakif Seymour touchdown run, giving the Rockets a 28-17 lead that they took into the half.
Toledo dominated the ground game in the first half with an absurd 196 yards on 30 carries.
On their first drive of the second half, Peters was picked off and the Golden Flashes were able to hit a 47 yard field goal courtesy of kicker Matthew Trickett.
It was not until the end of the third quarter that the first touchdown of the half was scored, a stark contrast from the high flying first half. The touchdown came on a long 3rd and goal when Crum escaped the pocket and scrambled for a big touchdown to initially cut the Rocket lead to 28-26.
Where most coaches may go for a two point conversion to try and tie the game in a situation like this, Kent State head coach Sean Lewis opted for the extra point and made the score 28-27.
After a very non-productive third for the Rocket offense, they were finally able to strike gold on a long touchdown drive that was capped off by a 5 yard Seymour touchdown run.
The drama of the game reached a boiling point on the ensuing Kent State drive, however.
Trailing 35-27, the Golden Flashes took a six minute drive and were able to punch in a touchdown; but on the two point try to tie the game, Crum was halted at the one yard line by a slew of Rocket defenders to keep the score at 35-33 and temporarily prevent a Golden Flash rally.
With a little over five minutes left to play, the Rockets still needed at least a few first downs to ice the contest and come away with a huge conference victory. To do this, the Rockets leaned on the run game one more time and Shakif Seymour ‘pounded the rock’ to a Rocket victory, 35-33.
Seymour finished the game with 175 rushing yards, a career high, and 2 rushing touchdowns. The Rockets as a team dominated the line of scrimmage en route to 296 rushing yards for the game.
The Rockets play host again for their next contest on Wednesday, November 13th against Northern Illinois.