MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — What looked so promising for the University of Toledo with a nearly flawless second quarter quickly faded in the second half as the Rockets fell 52-30 to No. 14 Miami on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Riding 16 consecutive second-quarter points, the Rockets took a 16-10 lead into halftime and appeared to be inching toward an upset, but 42 second-half points by the Hurricanes squashed that notion.
“The third quarter this season, so far, has been our ally,” UT coach Jason Candle said.
“Today it wasn’t. It was our enemy. The first drive, stalling out coming out in the third quarter after we got them stopped, I thought that was a key moment. We just didn’t tackle great in the second half. … We’re real close. You have to give Miami credit, though. That is a damn good football team. They are going to give a lot of people problems this year.”
Miami, which had a game cancelled and one rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma and went 10 days without being able to practice, got a big performance from running back Mark Walton, who had 11 carries for 204 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Malik Rosier was 27-of-36 passing for 333 yards and three touchdowns.
It was the second game for the Hurricanes after winning their opener Sept. 2 against Bethune-Cookman.
“You have to give [Miami coach] Mark Richt and that staff and players a lot of credit, because what they had to deal with the last couple weeks, there is not a manual that you can write for that,” Candle said. “We played a really good opponent and, when you play really good teams like that, you have to be crisp and you have to be clean and sometimes, unfortunately, we weren’t tonight.”
In the pivotal third quarter, Miami’s Travis Homer scored on a 12-yard run and Rosier found Dayall Harris on a 10-yard touchdown pass as the Hurricanes outscored Toledo 14-0 and took over the game, leading 24-16 heading into the fourth.
In the final quarter, things turned quickly on Toledo and the Rockets found themselves down 38-16 with 11:23 left after a 2-yard touchdown pass from Rosier to Christopher Herndon. Two touchdown passes from Woodside to Diontae Johnson (6 and 8 yards) made it a one-possession game at 38-30 with 7:37 left.
“I definitely think that you can never count this team out,” Woodside said. “That’s one thing I love about these guys is that we never quit. We could have very easily laid down, but we didn’t do that and I don’t think we ever are going to do that.”
Needing a key stop, Toledo allowed Miami to drive down the field and Rosier scored on a 23-yard run with 6:01 left to increase the lead to 45-30. Homer put on the finishing touches with a 15-yard touchdown run on the next Hurricanes possession.
“It was definitely a missed opportunity, but that is because it was self-inflicted wounds,” linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley said. “It was stuff we could have fixed to make a different outcome. There are just little things that we have to correct and come back — and come back stronger.”
Woodside was 28-of-48 passing for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Cody Thompson caught five passes for 114 yards, and Diontae Johnson had eight catches for 66 yards and two scores. Terry Swanson led the Toledo rushing attack with 20 carries for 79 yards.
Miami started the game quickly with two long early runs from Walton (44 and 82 yards) and took a 10-0 lead after on quarter.
Toledo answered with three Jameson Vest field goals and a 37-yard touchdown pass from Woodside to Jon’Vea Johnson in the second quarter.
“We went into halftime treating it as 0-0,” Woodside said. “We just tried to keep fighting, and we didn’t really look at the scoreboard. We just tried to take it one play at a time, and that is what happened.”
Candle said there are plenty of positive takeaways from the performance against a top-15 opponent on the road, but he said he expects to see plenty of details that need to be corrected when he and his staff watch film of the game.
“I’m not disappointed in our effort,” Candle said. “I’m not disappointed in the attitude of our football team and how we try to finish games and that. The discipline, the detail, the little things and just being crisp, that sometimes gets frustrating. But there is no quit in this football team.”
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