With all the attention paid to University of Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, there is probably the perception in some quarters that the Rockets are strictly a passing offense.
UT's running backs sent notice to the contrary last night during a 30-3 victory over Eastern Michigan at the Glass Bowl.
Let by Trinity Dawson's 159 yards on 24 carries, the Rockets posted 295 net yards on the ground, a healthy chunk of the team's 456 total yards of offense.
"Trinity had a great game, the break-out game I'd been waiting for," Gradkowski said. "There was no reason not to keep feeding it to him. No question, the running game opens everything else up."
Dawson had been knocking on the 100-yard door all season - he had 97 yards against Western Michigan and 92 at Fresno State - but this was his first time in triple figures.
"Bruce is a great quarterback, but I think balance is a big key," Dawson said. "The coaches always preach that running the ball sets the tone. It's always a part of the game plan to establish the run and the offensive line did a great job tonight. This is the best I've felt in a long time.
"It's my senior year and my body's feeling good. Hopefully, this was just the start."
Dawson got support from Jalen Parmele, who carried six times for 50 yards, and Quinton Broussard, who produced 39 yards on five carries.
All three running backs scored a touchdown.
"Parmele made about eight yards a crack and Quinton did the same, so we have a bunch of good backs," said coach Tom Amstutz. "I love it when we run hard."
THE THUMB: The Rockets lost their top defensive player in the second quarter when inside linebacker Anthony Jordan was ejected after a personal foul.
"Anthony said he was separating two players and wasn't even involved," Amstutz said. "I believe him. I don't really have any idea what happened."
Jordan entered the game as UT's tackle leader with 17 solo stops and 33 total tackles, including a team-best 3 1/2 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
"He's been next to me so long, it hurt not to have him out there," said fellow inside linebacker David Thomas. "But I thought we responded and played tough as a unit. The coaches said I had to step up and lead."
Thomas stepped up and led the Rocket defense with nine tackles. Outside linebacker Mike Alston had seven, including three behind the line of scrimmage.
SNAPPED BACK: Eastern Michigan quarterback Matt Bohnet, a senior who came in having completed 63 per cent of his passing attempts this season, missed all of the second quarter last night after taking a jarring hit from Toledo safety Keon Jackson that resulted in a right leg contusion late in the first quarter.
Bohnet had driven the Eagles from their 21-yard line to the Toledo 24 when he scrambled right to avoid a UT blitz from the opposite side. He broke into the open field and picked up 14 yards, but didn't attempt to slide, allowing Jackson to make a huge hit that flipped Bohnet high into the air.
Bohnet returned at the start of the second half and finished 14-of-28 for 128 passing yards.
ODDS 'N' ENDS: One of Eastern Michigan's starting cornerbacks is Steven Lewis, a 5-8, 167-pound senior from Rogers High School. He was credited with seven tackles and one pass break-up for the Eagles last night. .●.●. The Rockets have outscored opponents 66-0 in first quarters this season.
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