Toledo upsets Purdue 31-20 for third-straight road winWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.—Despite playing without two defensive starters and bringing in a struggling offense that ranked 120th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total yards per game, Toledo was resilient down the stretch and held on to defeat Purdue 31-20 for its third road victory in consecutive weeks this season—the first time it has accomplished that feat since 1995. The win also marks the fifth-straight year the Rockets have defeated a team from a Bowl Championship Series-automatic qualifying conference, but the first time they have done so with a winning record.
“Our kids believed, and they came out and played four quarters of football,” Toledo Head Coach Tim Beckman said. “In the last three games on the road, we’ve had to come out and establish ourselves. We’ve done it either on defense in the two games prior to it, and in this game on offense.”
Sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin had 273 yards of total offense and four touchdowns against the Boilermakers. Dantin was 24-for-31 for 209 yards through the air with two touchdowns, also rushing for two more scores on the ground as he gained 64 yards on 17 carries. Sophomore wide receiver Eric Page had 10 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, while junior running back Adonis Thomas rushed 13 times for 79 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Defensively, Toledo was led by senior linebacker Archie Donald, who had a team-high 16 tackles to go along with his game-sealing interception. Donald ripped the ball away from Rob Henry’s intended receiver and returned it 51 yards to the Boilermakers’ 23-yard line with 2:57 left in the game.
“It was a team victory,” senior defensive end Douglas Westbrook said. “We practiced hard this week. We knew this was a Big Ten opponent, and we had to give it all we’ve got to win.
“To be great, you’ve got to go through adversity.”
On the opening drive of the game, the Rockets (3-1, 2-0 MAC) went 85 yards in 13 plays to take an early 7-0 lead over the Boilermakers (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at the 9:43 mark after Dantin’s five-yard touchdown pass to Page. Dantin was six-of-seven for 68 yards and racked up 21 yards rushing in Toledo’s first offensive series. Page was his main target, catching four of those passes for 55 yards and the score.
“That was huge,” Dantin said. “We always talk about that first drive—getting that first first down—and I think that was a huge point of emphasis for us to get that first first down, get the momentum rolling, and that’s exactly what we came out and did.”
The Rockets scored again with 49 seconds left in the first quarter on another touchdown pass from Dantin, this time to junior tight end Danny Noble from seven yards out to extend their lead to 14. Purdue quarterback Robert Marve dropped back to pass on the Boilermakers’ previous drive, but fell down almost immediately after his left knee buckled, and he subsequently fumbled the football in the process as freshman defensive lineman Elijah Jones recovered to give Toledo possession at the Purdue 13-yard line. Junior kicker Ryan Casano added a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Rockets a 17-0 lead by halftime.
In the third quarter, Purdue went 48 yards in 11 plays on its opening drive, capping it off with a 49-yard field goal from kicker Carson Wiggs to make the score 17-3 with 11:31 on the clock. On the fifth play of the Rockets’ ensuing possession, Dantin faked the handoff to Thomas on the read option, kept it himself and ran 58 yards around the right side and past the Boilermakers’ defense to put Toledo up 24-3.
However, Purdue scored 14 unanswered points on its next two consecutive drives, cutting the Rockets’ lead to seven with the score 24-17 by the 4:31 mark of the third quarter. The first touchdown was on a 36-yard dash up the middle by junior fullback Jared Crank, which capped a five-play, 67-yard Boilermakers’ drive that spanned 1:43. The next score came on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Rob Henry to Dan Dierking four plays after Dantin was sacked by Josh Johnson and subsequently fumbled to give Purdue the ball back.
In the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers made it 24-20 after a 22-yard field goal from Wiggs with 8:07 to play, but a 50-yard kickoff return by Page to the Purdue 47-yard line set up Toledo’s next score eight plays later when Dantin scored his second rushing touchdown of the day from one yard out to make it 31-20 with 5:24 left in the game. Donald’s interception on the Boilermakers’ following drive sealed the victory for the Rockets.
Toledo will be in action again on Oct. 2 when it takes on Wyoming (1-3, 0-1 Mountain West Conference) in the Glass Bowl at 7 p.m.