Rockets roll in season openerWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rockets cruised through a tune-up game against New Hampshire with a 58-22 in the season opener Sept. 1.
“I’m proud of the way that this senior group led this football team,” UT head coach Tim Beckman said. “I can’t be more tickled to
death. First of all, they set a goal to be the first senior group since 2005 to win an opener. They came out and played four quarters of football. I can’t be more proud of the way that they responded today to make themselves a good football team.”
Toledo’s defense held the Wildcats to 332 total yards of offense and forced five turnovers, which the offense converted into five touchdowns. The Rockets finished with 47 rushes for 287 yards and 304 passing yards.
“Our objectives for this game were to come out, play all four quarters, get turnovers and play with relentless effort to get the ball rolling for the season,” senior defensive lineman Malcolm Riley said. “Our defense prides ourselves on taking the ball away, giving great effort and getting to the ball. I feel that’s what we strived to do tonight.”
Junior quarterback Austin Dantin started for the Rockets but alternated possessions with sophomore Terrance Owens.
“We have a great relationship, and I think he and I are just both out there for the betterment of the team, regardless of what that might be,” Dantin said. “Getting a win was the most important thing, and that’s what really matters.”
Dantin went 15 of 21 for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Owens completed 10 of 13 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought they both played extremely well,” Beckman said. “We’re going to run a two-quarterback system here, because we believe in both of our quarterbacks. They’ll battle again to see who will be the starting quarterback when we get down to Columbus.”
After catching just five passes for 32 yards last season, sophomore receiver Bernard Reedy had five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
“His game has increased and gotten better,” Beckman said. “He had to play as a true freshman. You can see that he has some excellent talent. He’s a Rocket, no question about it. I see him having a bright, bright future for us.”
“I like to show the coaches and the team that I’m there with them,” Reedy said. “Those are my brothers. I’m telling them every day that I will go as hard as I can.”
Junior wide receiver tied Reedy for the team lead in catches with five for 60 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Adonis Thomas was next with four catches for 26 yards along with nine rushes for 115 yards and a score.
“We set our sights on New Hampshire during winter conditioning,” Thomas said. “We wanted to know our first opponent better than they knew themselves. Coach always said we haven’t played a football game for 255 days, so we had 255 days to prepare for a team. If you don’t beat a team you have 255 days to prepare for, I really don’t know what to tell you.”
The Rockets opened the scoring on their second drive with a 23-yard field goal from senior Ryan Casano.
Senior Diauntae Morrow intercepted the ball on the first play of the ensuing drive off a deflection at the New Hampshire 30 yard line. Toledo capitalized with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Dantin to junior wide receiver Eric Page, who finished the half with four receptions for 38 yards.
New Hampshire returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, but they play was called back on an unnecessary roughness penalty. Senior Charles Rancifer recovered a fumble on 3rd and short and returned it to the 29-yard line.
Owens entered the game and completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Reedy for a 17-0 lead with 1:05 remaining in the first half.
New Hampshire drove the ball on the next drive, but Riley recovered a fumble at the 18-yard line. Thomas had three runs and a catch for 72 total yards on the next drive, including a 46-yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats scored on a 3-yard pass from Decker to running back Chris Setian with 28 seconds left and scored a two-point conversion for a 27-8 score. They failed to recover an onside kick attempt, and Casano made a 38-yard field goal as time expired.
Senior running back Morgan Williams scored on a 15-yard pass from Dantin 2:59 into the second half for a 37-8 lead.
With New Hampshire driving the ball in UT territory, Decker fumbled the ball, recovered it and fumbled again. Junior linebacker Robert Bell recovered at the 37 yard line. The Rockets capitalized with a 63-yard strike from Dantin to Reedy for a 44-8 lead.
UT nearly had a goal-line stand on the next drive, but Decker rushed for a touchdown on fourth and goal from the one yard line to cap a 12 plays, 78-yard drive.
Danny Noble caught an eight-yard pass from Owens, and Dwight Macon scored from four yards out on a quarterback draw to cap the scoring for UT. New Hampshire running back Nico Steriti broke loose for an 87-yard run with 8:14 remaining.
The Rockets play at Ohio State Sept. 10 at noon.