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Toledo tops Western Michigan, earns spot in MAC title game

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    The University of Toledo football team celebrates defeating Western Michigan 37-10 on Friday at the Glass Bowl and earned a Mid-American Conference West title and a trip to the MAC championship game for the first time since 2004.

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    The University of Toledo football team celebrates defeating Western Michigan 37-10 on Friday at the Glass Bowl and earned a Mid-American Conference West title and a trip to the MAC championship game for the first time since 2004.

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    Toledo's Shakif Seymour runs the ball through Western Michigan's defense.

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    Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside went over 10,000 career passing yards during Friday's 37-10 win over Western Michigan at the Glass Bowl.

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    Toledo's Danzel McKinley-Lewis runs the ball on a punt return as Western Michigan's Wyatt Pfeifer closes in.

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    UT coach Jason Candle on the sidelines during Friday's 37-10 win over Western Michigan at the Glass Bowl.

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    Toledo's Shakif Seymour works his way around Western Michigan's Antonio Balabani.

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    Toledo's Kahlil Robinson looks for running room after passing Western Michigan's Chukwuma Okorafor on an interception return Friday.

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    Toledo's Terry Swanson runs the ball downfield as Western Michigan's Stefan Claiborne defends.

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    Toledo's Danzel McKinley-Lewis scores a touchdown against Western Michigan.

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    Toledo's Logan Woodside looks topass against Western Michigan.

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    Terry Swanson of Toledo finds running room during Friday's 37-10 win over Western Michigan at the Glass Bowl.

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    Terry Swanson (2) celebrates Diontae Johnson's touchdown against Western Michigan.

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    Toledo wide receiver Danzel McKinley-Lewis, defended by Western Michigan defensive back Obbie Jackson, scores a touchdown.

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    Toledo running back Art Thompkins rushes during the second half of Friday's game.

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    Western Michigan defensive back Obbie Jackson intercepts a pass intended for Toledo wide receiver Desmond Phillips.

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    Toledo linebacker AJ Crider celebrates the team's 37-10 win over Western Michigan.

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    Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside looks downfield during the first half of Friday's game.

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    Toledo's Ja'Wuan Woodley celebrates a tackle against Western Michigan.

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    UT's Shakif Seymour scores a touchdown against Western Michigan.

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For a brief moment after the final seconds ticked off the clock and he was freshly drenched in a Gatorade shower, University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle allowed himself to relax.

He took a moment to soak in all that was happening around him and all that it meant historically. His Toledo team had just dominated Western Michigan 37-10 on Friday afternoon at the Glass Bowl and earned a trip to the Mid-American Conference championship for the first time since 2004.

The win, coupled with a Northern Illinois loss to Central Michigan on Friday, means the Rockets are outright MAC West Division champions for the first time since 1998.

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The University of Toledo football team celebrates defeating Western Michigan 37-10 on Friday at the Glass Bowl and earned a Mid-American Conference West title and a trip to the MAC championship game for the first time since 2004.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“There is a little bit of validation for your work and your efforts,” Candle said. “A little bit. But, there is a lot left out there for us to still play for. I’m just really happy for the seniors.

“For us to send our seniors out here and their last memory of the Glass Bowl is that they went undefeated here this year, and they beat Western Michigan, who has taken this from us the last two years, and now they get a chance to go play in Detroit. If that is the last memory they will have after we had a pretty good locker room celebration, then that is pretty good.”

Toledo (10-2, 7-1 MAC) turned in a complete performance, led offensively by senior quarterback Logan Woodside’s 300 passing yards and two touchdowns, and Terry Swanson’s 94 yards rushing and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Shakif Seymour added 54 rushing yards and a 1-yard score.

During the game, Woodside became the first player in Toledo history to surpass the 10,000-yard passing mark.

“It’s not just me, it’s the whole offense,” Woodside said. “Our offensive line has stepped up tremendously throughout this whole year. Our running game has been really, really good. That has just made it a lot easier on me, and I just try to get the ball to the playmakers and limit the mistakes out there.”

An efficient pass offense and a solid run game were complemented by an outstanding defensive effort in limiting the MAC’s leading rusher Jarvion Franklin to just 52 yards on 15 carries. The Rockets stacked the box and dared Western Michigan’s freshman quarterback, Reece Goddard, to beat them over the top.

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The University of Toledo football team celebrates defeating Western Michigan 37-10 on Friday at the Glass Bowl and earned a Mid-American Conference West title and a trip to the MAC championship game for the first time since 2004.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Goddard managed to complete just 13 of 29 passes for 180 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, one by Kahlil Robinson and one by Ka’dar Hollman.

“We’ve preached turnovers and flying to the football,” UT senior cornerback Trevon Mathis said. “I’m just proud of our guys. We are really stepping up to the plate.”

Toledo scored 14 points both in the second and third quarters and scored on its first four possessions of the second half before running out the clock on its final possession.

Jameson Vest kicked field goals from 33, 40, and 35 yards. Swanson scored on a 13-yard run, Seymour bowled in from 1-yard out, and Woodside found Danzel McKinley-Lewis on a 20-yard touchdown strike and added another score on a 13-yard pass to Diontae Johnson.

Western Michigan never led and scored on a Josh Grant field goal from 24 yards out and a third-quarter, 26-yard touchdown pass from Goddard to Tyron Arnett.

Toledo outgained Western Michigan 455-275.

The Rockets earned a spot in the MAC championship game against MAC East champion Akron on Dec. 2 at Ford Field in Detroit.

“It’s a great feeling, and we are right on pace,” Mathis said. “We still have one more so we can’t get too high. We are going to celebrate this victory today, and then we have to get right back to it. We still have unfinished business. It was great, especially with it being senior night. Hats off to the seniors. We’ve put in a lot of work the past four or five years. And hats off to the younger guys, too, who contributed to this win. It was just a great win.”

Toledo was able to erase some past November heartache that had caused what at times had been a perplexing conference title game drought based on how consistent UT has been throughout the past decade-plus.

But that is all in the past now as Toledo can look ahead to the matchup with the Zips.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling,” Woodside said. “Since 2004 we haven’t been there, but we aren’t satisfied. It was a great win today, and we are going to cherish it today, and then get right back to work tomorrow. I think [the MAC title game] will be everything we dreamed of and imagined, especially since I’ve been here. We expect a huge crowd from Toledo to come up and support us. It’s going to be a really great atmosphere, and we are excited to get up there and play.”

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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