JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
Since late in the 1999 football season, there has been no place like home for the University of Toledo at the Glass Bowl.
But, the fact that the Rockets had won 36 of their previous 38 games here, and that it was Toledo's homecoming game, mattered little to the Central Michigan Chippewas last night.
The Chips spotted UT a 14-0 lead before rallying for three touchdowns in the final 5:09 of the first half en route to a lopsided 42-20 victory over the Rockets.
The loss dropped UT to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the Mid-American Conference, the first time in the six seasons of Tom Amstutz's head coaching career that the Rockets have started MAC play with consecutive defeats.
Central Michigan (3-3, 3-0 MAC) showed little early, with its first three possessions netting two punts and a missed 37-yard field goal try.
But, by game s end, the Rockets had imploded from poor pass coverage, inconsistent tackling, dropped passes, costly turnovers and penalties.
CMU turned two UT giveaways a fumble by and an interception of quarterback Aaron Opelt directly into touchdowns.
One came just before halftime, killing the momentum the Rockets had built, and another early in the fourth which killed any chance they had of coming back.
We just have to keep it going throughout the whole game, keep the fast tempo, said Opelt, a true freshman who was making his first UT start. That s what we need to work on right now. Turnovers always kill you. You always want to win the turnover battle, and tonight we didn t.
Toledo s third turnover, a fumble by Nick Moore in UT territory, led to the Chippewas sixth unanswered TD five plays later.
It was Toledo s worst loss at the Glass Bowl since a 35-12 thumping from Syracuse in the 1999 season opener.
Opelt, a Fremont Ross product, could not have opened any better on his initial drive. He guided UT on a 14-play, 99-yard march that took 5:09 off the clock and ended on his scrambling nine-yard touchdown pass to Steve Odom with 7:27 left in the first quarter, giving the Rockets a 7-0 lead.
En route, Opelt completed 7 of 9 passes for 75 yards, mixing in an 11-yard run for a first down.
Aaron was sharp early and our team moved the ball, Amstutz said. But you can t make the mistakes. Turnovers were a huge part of the game. We have to stay focused and keep working.
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