DETROIT – Senior quarterback Logan Woodside passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns as the Toledo Rockets won their first Mid-American Conference Championship since 2004 as they defeated the Akron Zips 45-28 in the 2017 Marathon MAC Championship Game at Ford Field
Toledo (11-2) were the pre-season favorites not only to win the Western Division but also win the championship game.
“I am proud of our football team” UT head coach Jason Candle said. These players started on a journey in January and it was a credit to their determination and resolve to win this championship.”
Akron (7-6) the surprise winners of the Eastern Division playing in their first Championship Game since 2005. “We were beaten by a better football team today.” Zips head man Terry Bowden said. “You just don’t have any excuses after getting beat twice by this team,” UT won the first meeting back on October 21st 48-21.
The game was decided in the second quarter.
With Toledo leading 7-0 on Woodside’s first touchdown pass a 27-yarder to sophomore Dionte Johnson. The Zips gained possession when Woodside fumbled and Brian Bell recovered at the UT 37.
With Thomas Woodson at quarterback, UA drove down to the Rockets 25 where Woodson connected with newman Williams in the end zone for an apparent score. The touchdown was siped on when senior RT Jovann Letuili was penalized for being off the line of scrimmage thus calling an illegal formation penalty.
Then Letuil was called for an illiegal procedure penalty which backed UA up five more yards. They got the ball back to the Rockets 25. Nick Gasser came on to attempt a 42 yard field goal; attempt which was blocked by Sophomore Nate Childress and returned by junior Josh Teachey who returned the ball the Akron 34.
From there, senior RB Terry Swanson scored from 2 yards out. , that 14-point swing made the Rockets lead 14-0. On the day Swanson rushed fir 180 yards on 21 carries and added a third quarter score.
Eefore halftime, the Rockets added two more touchdowns with the first coming on a second Woodside and Dionte Johnson hooked up this a five yard score then with eight seconds remaining, Woodside found junior Jon’Vea Johnson from 27-yard yards out to make it 28-0 at halftime.
Woodside who was named the game’s offensive player of the game completed 23-of-37 passes and in the two games this season against Akron, he passed for 607 yards and nine touchdowns.
At that point, it was a margin too great for Akron to overcome.
In one respect however, UA led plays get away from them. Along with the penalty on the touchdown by Letuil, the defense led by junior LB Ulysses Gilbert, forced three fumbles and two interceptions. However they could not capitalize those turnovers into points.
Gilbert the Zips defense with 10 tackles (five solo) and was named Defensive Player of the game.
To their credit the Zips kept fighting and finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter on a seven yard run by senior RB Manny Morgan. Before UA scored Toledo added 10 more points on a 47-yard field goal by Jameson vest and a Woodside 12-yard score to freshman RB Shakif Seymour.
In the fourth quarter, the Zips had scores when freshman QB Cato Nelson found senior TD Austin Wolf on a fly pattern down the right sideline,. Then on Nelson’s final pass of the game from the UT 44 he delivered a strike just as he was hit to sophomore WR Kwadarius Smith who was standing all alone at the UT three and walked in for the touchdown.
Toledo’s final touchdown came on a 54-yard breakaway run by Swanson.UA’s final score in the final seconds of the game came from backup Robbie Kelley who found freshman TE Cobie Booker all alone over the middle from five yards out
It was a day where the UT offense rolled up 561 yards the seventh time this season they have gained 500 or more yards in a game in total offense while their 48 points were the most by a victor in a MAC Championship game since 2003 when Miami scored 49 on Bowling Green and marked the sixth time this season the Rockets have scored 50 or more points in a game.