Ohio hung around with Toledo for more than half of Tuesday’s Mid-American Conference football game.
Once Toledo’s Bryant Koback took over though, the Rockets were well on their way to a victory.
Koback scored four rushing touchdowns, powering Toledo past Ohio 35-23 in front of 9,716 chilly fans at Peden Stadium.
The Bobcats were within 14-9 in the third quarter before Koback’s 55-yard touchdown run opened the flood gates for Toledo.
The Senior Night loss snaps a two-game winning streak for Ohio, which falls to 3-8 overall and 3-4 in the MAC.
The Bobcats had more total yardage (445-401), had more first downs (30-18), ran nearly twice as many plays (84-45) and controlled time of possession (41:27 to 18:33), but couldn’t contain the Rockets’ quick-strike offense.
Koback proved to be difficult to stop for Ohio’s defense. He rushed for 203 yards on 21 carries, also adding 19 yards on three receptions.
“He is a tremendous player; he has been for a long time here,” Toledo coach Jason Candle said. “He made some big explosive runs and picked up some tough yards in a game when safeties run blocking down there and meet him at the line of scrimmage. I am really proud of his effort and proud of how we ran the football tonight.”
Toledo (6-5, 4-3 MAC) didn’t throw much, but was efficient when it did. Dequan Finn completed 10 of 15 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.
“Hats off to Toledo, they’ve got a complete football team and going into the game I told the team that we would have to basically play our best four quarters of football to have a shot,” Ohio coach Tim Albin said. ‘We didn’t and we were in it. We just couldn’t make the plays that we made the last couple of weeks”
Ohio used both quarterbacks in Kurtis Rourke and Armani Rogers. Rourke completed 22 of 36 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown. Rogers didn’t attempt a pass, but rushed for 34 yards on seven carries.
De’Montre Tuggle led Ohio with 64 yards on 13 rushing attempts. Isiah Cox added 37 yards on two carries.
Cox also caught four passes for 65 yards, with Tuggle also catching four passes for 33 yards. Sieh Bangura caught three passes for 34 yards.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Ohio led 3-0 after Stephen Johnson’s 34-yard field goal.
Koback scored his first two touchdowns to give Toledo the lead. His first score came on a run of eight yards for a 7-3 Rocket lead with 9:07 left in the first half.
Koback completed a six-play, 64-yard drive with a 4-yard plunge into the end zone for a 14-3 lead with 4:15 left in the first half.
The Bobcats scored on the last play of the half, with Johnson’s 41-yard field goal as time expired cutting the Toledo lead to 14-6. Rourke’s 18-yard run on third-and-15 with four seconds left made the field goal possible.
Ohio’s best chance at staying in the game came at the start of the third quarter. The Bobcats got the ball to start the third quarter and it appeared the drive stalled on fourth-and-five.
The Bobcats called on a fake punt pass, with Jonah Wieland completing a 20-yard pass to Ryan Luehrman, advancing the ball to the Rockets’ 40-yard line.
Ohio continued the drive six plays later when Rourke completed an 11-yard pass to Tuggle on fourth-and-five, advancing to Toledo’s 23-yard line.
Toledo’s defense stopped Rourke for a 2-yard gain on third-and-three, and Ohio opted to kick a field goal on fourth-and-one. Johnson’s 32-yard field goal was good, capping off a 15-play, 61-yard drive that ate 8:27 off the clock.
Ohio trailed just 14-9, but the Rockets quickly regained the momentum.
They went for a fourth-and-one at their own 45-yard line. Koback found an opening up the middle, racing 55 yards for a touchdowns.
Suddenly, Ohio trailed 21-9 with 4:27 left in the third.
“I just want to go out there and run the ball hard and continue to try to get first downs so we can keep the offense on the field to have good drives and score points,” Koback said. “I mean, I just want to go out there play hard for my teammates, I know this is the last away game for a lot of the seniors, so I wanted to go out and give it my all.”
The Bobcats went three-and-out on their next possession, and it took Toledo only one play to find the end zone.
Finn completed an 85-yard touchdown pass to Matt Landers, putting Toledo ahead 28-9 with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Ohio’s deficit grew to 35-9 after Koback’s fourth touchdown, a 13-yard run with 10:43 left in the game.
The Bobcats recorded a pair of late-game touchdowns. Bangura’s 4-yard run capped off a 75-yard drive, pulling Ohio within 35-16.
Ohio recovered the onside kick, and Chase Cokley’s 14-yard touchdown reception from Rourke capped the scoring at 35-23.
The Bobcats honored their senior class before the game, a group that dealt with the pandemic shortened season a year ago.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Albin said. “After the pandemic, almost all of them came back to fight for this program and this university. They’ve done that every day with class.”
It was also the final home games for Ryan and Adam Luehrman. The 2015 Athens High School graduates have been in the Bobcats’ program for the last season seasons.
“Every time I walk out onto the field, I look at that hill,” Ryan Luehrman said. “I see kids playing around, running around, and I just think was me. I was dying to hop over that fence and play football on this turf and to be able to do that I’m forever grateful. It really hasn’t hit me yet playing my last game at Peden Stadium.”
The Bobcats have one final game remaining in the 2021 season. They will travel to Bowling Green on Friday, Nov. 26, for a 12 p.m. kickoff.
Toledo 35, Bowling Green 23
Toledo 0 14 14 7 — 35
Ohio 0 6 3 14 — 23
OH — Stephen Johnson, 34-yard field goal, 10:42, 2nd
T — Bryant Koback, 8-yard run (Thomas Cluckey kick), 9:07, 2nd
T — Bryant Koback, 4-yard run (Thomas Cluckey kick), 4:15, 2nd
OH — Stephen Johnson, 41-yard field goal, 0:00, 2nd
OH — Stephen Johnson, 32-yard field goal, 6:33, 3rd
T — Bryant Koback, 55-yard run (Thomas Cluckey kick), 4:27, 3rd
T — Matt Landers, 85-yard pass from Dequan Finn (Thomas Cluckey kick), 3:28, 3rd
T — Bryan Koback, 13-yard run (Thomas Cluckey kick), 10:43, 4th
OH — Sieh Bangura, 4-yard run (Stephen Johnson kick), 4:29, 4th
OH — Chase Cokley, 14-yard pass from Kurtis Rourke (Stephen Johnson kick), 2:07, 4th
First downs 18 30
Plays from scrimmage 45 84
Rushing (plys-yds) 31-251 46-192
Passing yards 150 253
Total net yards 401 445
Passes (cmp-att-int) 10-14-0 23-38-0
Fumbles (no-lost) 0-0 2-1
Penalties (no-yds) 12-128 10-95
Punts (no-avg) 5-37.2 4-45.5
Time of possession 18:33 41:27
Toledo — Bryant Koback 21-203 4 Ts, Dequan Finn 3-28, Jacquez Stuart 3-10, Devin Maddox 1-9, Micah Kelly 3-1; Ohio — De’Montre Tuggle 13-64, Isiah Cox 2-37, Armani Rogers 7-34, Sieh Bangura 6-21 TD, Kurtis Rourke 13-18, Jake Neatherton 3-11, Ty Walton 1-7, Cameron Odom 1-0.
Toledo — Dequan Finn 10-14-0-150 TD; Ohio — Kurtis Rourke 22-36-0-233 TD, Jonah Wieland 1-1-0-20.
Toledo — Matt Landers 1-85 TD, Bryan Koback 3-19, Devin Maddox 3-17, Isaiah Winstead 1-17, DeMeer Blankumsee 1-8, Micah Kelly 1-4; Ohio — Isiah Cox 4-65, Sieh Bangura 3-34, De’Montre Tuggle 4-33, Chase Cokley 2-29 TD, Ty Walton 3-24, Cameron Odom 3-20, Ryan Luehrman 1-20, Miles Cross 1-11, Adam Luehrman 1-9, James Bostic 1-8.