UT Takes Coastal Carolina 38 – 28Written by Nate Pentecost | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After the way Toledo dispatched of arch rival Bowling Green last weekend, few would have expected the Rockets to struggle with FCS opponent Coastal Carolina.
Nevertheless, UT (3-1, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) was given all it could by the Chanticleers (2-2) Saturday night before pulling out the 31-21 victory.
“I thought their kids executed their game plan very well,” said UT head coach Matt Campbell. “They played with great effort and really gave themselves a chance to win the football game.
Coastal Carolina struck on their opening drive of the game as senior quarterback Aramis Hillary completed 3-of-4 passes for 51 yards to set up Jeremy Heights 1-yard touchdown plunge at the 9:51 mark of the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Terrance Owens, completed a trio of passes to help move the Rockets into the red zone the following drive but a pair of shorts runs and an incomplete pass would force Toledo to settle for a 26-yard field goal.
The Rockets defense forced Coastal to go three-and-out on the following drive and a 35-yard punt by sophomore Austin Cain set Toledo up at their own 48-yard line.
Owens started the drive by connecting with redshirt freshman receiver Alonzo Russell for a 32-yard gain. Junior tailback David Fluellen then rushed for five yards and Owens hit Russell again, this time for 9-yard gain, before the Rockets quarterback lobbed the ball over the middle of the defense to senior tight end Cordale Scott for 6-yard touchdown reception.
Owens completed 15-of-18 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in the first 15 minutes as Toledo entered the second quarter with a 10-7 advantage.
Following three drives which ended on three-and-out Owen found junior wideout Bernard Reedy in the end zone on the first play of the possession for a 43-yard touchdown to give the Rockets a 17-7 lead with just over two minutes gone in the second quarter.
The Chanticleers responded the next drive, which was capped off by Hillary’s 25-yard touchdown strike to redshirt freshman tight end Thomas Pauciello for the halftime score of 17-14 in favor of Toledo.
“I think maybe were a little lackadaisical this week in our preparation and it showed,” said junior center Zac Kerin. “It took a group effort to collect at halftime and come back out and get the win.”
Coastal began the second half with an opening drive score, marching down the field behind 68 yards passing from Hillary, including a 19-yard pass to junior wide receiver DeMario Bennett for paydirt and a 21-17 advantage.
After the touchdown both teams were once again forced to punt. Chanticleers sophomore Austin Cain set the Rockets up with great field position on a 17-yard boot which settled out of bounds at the Coastal Carolina 40-yard line.
Owens took full advantage, connecting on 3-of-3 pass attempts for 38 yards before scrambling for an 8-yard touchdown run to capture a 24-21 Rockets lead with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter.
Toledo held the Chanticleers scoreless the rest of the contest, as Owens found Scott again in the end zone with less than two minutes left for the final score.
Senior Austin Dantin saw a few snaps behind center the final drive of the game but for the third-straight game Owens commanded the offense, ending the night with 290 yards on 27-of-36 passing with three touchdowns.
Owens added 25 yards on the ground over six carries while sophomore tailback Cassius MCDowell led all rushers with 52 yards on 13 carries.
Height fronted the Chanticleers with 10 rushes for 49 yards and Hillary added 25 yards on six carries along with 356 yards on 30-of-47 passing with three touchdowns.
The Rockets defense sacked Hillary a season-high five times including one from senior linebacker Dan Molls who finished with a game-high 14 tackles. Freshman linebacker Trent Voss stepped in for injured senior Robert Bell in the second half to compile 13 tackles and a sack of his own.
“I’m proud of our kids for staying the course,” Campbell said. “But at the end of the day there are some things we need to get better at and there are great challenges ahead.”
The Rockets will hit the road next weekend when they travel to Kalamazoo, MI to take on MAC foe Western Michigan Saturday at 7 p.m.