MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — In sloppy and wet conditions, in the midst of steady rain and a soggy field, the high-flying University of Toledo offense called an audible and leaned almost exclusively on its running game in a 30-10 win over Central Michigan on Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Field.
The Rockets (5-1, 2-0 MAC) ran early and often and dared the Chippewas (3-4, 1-2 MAC) to get anything going offensively. The result was a dominant rushing attack and a standout defensive performance on the way to the first road win in the Mid-American Conference for Toledo.
Senior running back Terry Swanson, who missed last game with an ankle injury, gashed the Central Michigan defense for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
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Redshirt freshman running back Shakif Seymour came in to close out the game, adding 119 rushing yards and a TD of his own.
“You are starting to see some continuity on the offensive line I thought,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “Our tight ends did a great job setting the edge and our receivers did some really good things down the field blocking. That means you’re a selfless team to be honest with you. I think a lot of receivers when they see the forecast they put their heads you know where and say that’s the end of the day and I’m not going to be getting the football. We knew it was going to be a tough place to play and you have to generate your own energy.”
Swanson broke two 4th-down runs for touchdowns from 48 and 22 yards out in one of the best performances of his career.
“I have to give props to the offensive line,” Swanson said. “They did their thing. We have some guys missing in that group. They stepped up big. We had the attitude and mentality that we couldn’t be stopped regardless of what was being called or what they know is coming. Every running back loves that game because you know you are going to get some carries. It’s hard for the defense because they have to tackle you in this weather too. So, it’s fun for the running backs.”
Seymour scored from eight yards out late in the fourth quarter and when the day was done, Toledo carried the ball 56 times for 310 yards.
“This whole week we talked about being patient with the run and reading our blocks,” Seymour said. “Coach Candle was on top of that with us this week that we needed to be seeing our keys and knowing when we were supposed to be hitting the hole. We knew we were going to touch the ball. We just had to be smart and put two hands on there and get north and south.”
As dominant as the run game was for Toledo, the defense was equally as good. Aside from a late touchdown pass from Shane Morris to Tyler Conklin, the Rockets held Central Michigan in check. The Chippewas managed just 244 total yards and 62 rushing yards.
Toledo also got interceptions from linebacker Jack Linch and defensive back Justin Clark.
“We want to stop the run every single game,” Linch said. “I think we did that, holding them to under 100 yards rushing and that is our first priority. With this weather we wanted to create turnovers and we got two picks that were great. Any time you get those things you put yourself in a good chance to win.”
UT quarterback Logan Woodside was not called upon for his normal workload, finishing 10-of-18 for 89 yards. He did get into the rushing mix with a five-yard TD scamper.
Jameson Vest added a second quarter field goal as the Rockets aced their first conference road test of the season.
“These are all hard,” Candle said. “We said all week long there is a lot of parity in our league. There are a lot of good teams. If you don’t bring it every week you are going to get beat. Our guys knew that being on the road in conference games there are going to be some hard moments and you have to fight through them. I thought our guys for the most part did that. They did a really good job of stopping the run on defense and running the ball on offense, two things we are striving to be better at.”
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