Posted on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
TOLEDO WON. In what was one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season so far, the Toledo Rockets just edged out Air Force 42-41 at the Military Bowl in Washington D.C. As the score in this one indicates, there wasn't a whole lot of defense being played in this contest. In fact, there wasn't a score after the first 9 minutes of the first quarter, but then both teams combined for 35 points in the final 6 minutes of the opening frame.
Air Force actually outgained Toledo on offense, but the Rockets were able to score a touchdown in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens had a great game, completing 20 of his 25 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. All three of those touchdowns were to Bernard Reedy, who had 4 receptions for 125 yards in the game. Adonis Thomas also rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Rockets. Tim Jefferson led the way for the Air Force attack, with 225 total yards and 3 total touchdowns.
WHY TOLEDO WON. Honestly, there isn't really one specific area of the game that you can say Toledo outperformed Air Force. Yes, they had an interception return for a touchdown and a kick return for another score, but I'd say the deciding factor in this one was the fact that Toledo scored the first two touchdowns in this contest. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter Air Force was playing from behind all game and never did manage to take a lead.
WHEN TOLEDO WON. It wasn't until the final moments. On a 4th and 2 at the Toledo 33-yard line, down 42-35, Air Force's Tim Jefferson found Zack Kauth wide open for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 42-41. Air Force then sent its kicking team out, but instead of kicking the extra point, the Falcons ran a fake. One that was beautiful in design, but hideous in execution. The Falcons didn't convert, and then after Toledo recovered the onside kick it was just a matter of running out the clock.
WHAT TOLEDO WON. This was a nice finish to the season for Toledo, as it finishes 2011 with a 9-4 record and a win over a pretty good football team in Air Force. More importantly for the program, the Rockets didn't seem to lose a step after losing head coach Tim Beckman to Illinois earlier this winter. Matt Campbell also gets his first win as the program's head coach in his very first try.
WHAT AIR FORCE LOST. The Falcons lost a bowl game. That's it. They didn't get embarrassed either on the scoreboard or by a bad opponent. They were in this game until the closing seconds, and while it would no doubt have been nice to end the season with a victory, there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here.
THAT WAS CRAZY. This is going back to Air Force's two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. I have no problem with the decision to go for two, as it's a bowl game, and you might as well play to win it. My problem was the fact that Air Force ran a fake kick. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in football. If you're going to go for two, then send your offense out there. Put the players that are used to running these types of plays in a position to win the game, not your kicker or holder. Kickers kick. They don't run the option.
FINAL GRADE: This game was excellent. It was a back and forth affair that didn't feature a lot of defense, but did have plenty of big plays and was a bit of a roller coaster ride. In other words, it kept you entertained for the entire three and a half hours it was played, and what more can you ask for from a bowl game in late December? GRADE: A