Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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It took a half, but QB duel showed up

BOWLING GREEN - Omar vs. Bruce.

You kept waiting for the two best quarterbacks in the Mid-American Conference to break loose.

In the first half, there were short passes and dropped passes. There were fumbles and bumbles, not to mention just seven points for each team.

In the second half, the shootout everyone had been waiting for finally materialized.

The duel at the Doyt involving Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs and Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski kept the fans on the edge of their seats.

Jacobs and Gradkowski couldn't settle the issue in regulation. They had to work overtime.


BGSU quarterback Omar Jacobs looks for an open receiver after scrambling out of the pocket in the third quarter.


Gradkowski's fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 22-yarder to Chris Hopkins in double overtime, lifted the Rockets to a stunning 44-41 victory over Jacobs and the Falcons.

A short time earlier, Gradkowski had forced the extra session by tossing a three-yard scoring strike to Hopkins with 1:43 remaining in regulation.

"Bruce Gradkowski is a great player," Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said.

"You give him an inch on a play and he'll deliver the ball on the money. He was right there with that last throw."

Jacobs, a fourth-year junior playing just his second game since separating the shoulder on his nonthrowing arm Oct. 22 against Western Michigan, and Gradkowski, a fifth-year senior, both were sizzling after intermission.

The lead see-sawed in the final 30 minutes, with both teams mixing in running and passing plays while moving the ball almost at will.

Jacobs tossed two touchdown passes within a four-minute span in the fourth quarter to put the Falcons up by 31-24 with 8:01 left, but Gradkowski answered by finding Hopkins all alone in the end zone.

Jacobs' third touchdown pass in the first overtime tied the score at 38-38, and Joe Timchenko's 37-yard field goal gave Bowling Green a short-lived 41-38 lead.

That set the stage for Gradkowski's heroics.

On a third-down play from the 22, Bruce let loose with a play-action pass that landed in Hopkins' lap.

"Chris came through big for us tonight with two touchdown catches," Gradkowski said. "It was a great game. I take my hat off to Bowling Green and Omar Jacobs. Both teams fought their hearts out."

End of game. And likely the end of the season for Jacobs and Bowling Green, which finished 6-5 despite being the preseason favorite to win the MAC's East Division and the conference championship.

Jacobs' disappointment was obvious.

"It was a classic game," he said. "We battled. I can't complain about it."

Gradkowski finished 23-of-36 for 298 yards for the Rockets (8-3), who beat the Falcons here for only the third time since 1985, and Jacobs was 25-of-43 for 315.

The two quarterbacks combined for seven touchdown passes for the second consecutive season.

Jacobs also scored on a one-yard run on a fourth-down play on Bowling Green's opening series of the first quarter last night, but he didn't appear to have control of the ball, and his knee looked to be down before he crossed the goal line.

At that point, there were more people stranded on I-75 than there were in the stands.

Two series after overthrowing two receivers in the end zone, Gradkowski finally found the groove.

He tossed a game-tying 29-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Steve Odom in the right corner of the end zone with 1:11 remaining in the second quarter.

That was just the beginning of the fireworks. The two teams combined for 71 points after halftime.

In the end, Bruce out-dueled Omar, and the Rockets appear headed to a bowl game.

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