After a lackluster performance and start a week ago against FCS Long Island University, Jason Candle and his guys knew they had to start fast against former MAC foe UMass. Start fast they did. The Rocket defense wasted no time on their first defensive stand, holding UMass to -2 yards, setting the tone right off the get-go. The Rockets then took 8 plays marching 41 yards to punch in their first score, a 2-yard run by Penny Boone. The next UMass drive was much like the first, with 6 plays for 13 yards, and ending with another punt. Wash, rinse, and repeat for the next four drives. Toledo would score on four straight drives, with touchdowns of 2 yards, 21 yards, 3 yards, and 11 yards. UMass had no answer in the first 25 minutes for Toledo's attack, with four rushers gaining 111 yards on the ground, while DeMeer Blankumsee paced the Rocket receivers with 4 catches for 37 yards. Devin Maddox with Toledo's lone receiving touchdown, an 11-yard pitch, and catch from Dequan Finn. The Rockets would swell the lead to 28-0 before UMass would stop the Rocket scoring barrage, forcing a Toledo punt with 5:46 left in the second quarter. The Minutemen would then go on to score, a 1-yard punch in by Isaiah Holiness with 0:07 left in the first half. Now, I wasn't in the locker room for Toledo at halftime, but I can only imagine Jason Candle was ELATED to see Toledo had zero first-half penalties and a commanding lead. Despite Finn passing numbers being just 7/15, the Rockets were flexing their muscles early and often in this game. He had to have told his guys to keep their foot on the gas, and not worry about next week, despite a comfortable lead. It would seem as if they heeded his message, racing down after the second-half opening kick to put seven more on the board. That wasn't the end of the Rocket's day in the third, a quarter that felt like it took six years to complete. Toledo would go on to add ten more before the end of the third, growing the lead to 38 points leading into the final period. After a second Thomas Cluckey field goal to start the scoring in the fourth, Jason Candle pulls his starting QB in favor of Tucker Gleason, who helps Toledo march down to make it a 55-7 game at the 9:03 mark. UMass begins a long drive following the Toledo score, eating nearly all the time off the clock just to see their efforts result in just 3 points at the 23-second mark. Toledo respectfully closes out the game with an 8-yard run using third stringers, and will head into week three with a perfect 2-0 record.
Toledo finished tonight with all the right numbers offensively, amassing 234 rushing yards, and 177 passing yards. The stat that stands out? Toledo reduced the number of penalties down by more than half from a week ago, responsible for just four, all in the second half. Now, people might point out that UMass had 253 yards on the day but upon closer examination, you'll see that 128 yards were from their two scoring drives. Not a cause for concern for Toledo.
NEXT WEEK: Toledo takes a trip to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes who also sit at 2-0 after defeating Arkansas State 45-12 on Saturday. The Rockets look to defeat Ohio State for the first time in four tries, their most recent match-up in 2011 where the Rockets fell to the Buckeyes 27-22 in Columbus. UMass looks to rebound at home against FCS opponent Stony Brook, who just lost to Rhode Island 35-14.