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Published: Saturday, 10/23/2010

Rockets rally to beat Ball State

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Another week produced another comeback victory for the University of Toledo at the Glass Bowl.

Facing a 17-0 deficit after the first quarter, the Rockets responded with 31 unanswered points en route to a 31-24 win over Ball State Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 15,010.

UT trailed 21-7 at halftime to Kent State last week before rebounding with a scoring outburst in the third quarter.

Saturday night, the scoring outburst came in the second quarter, when the Rockets posted touchdowns on Eric Page's 46-yard catch and Austin Dantin's 1-yard plunge and a 25-yard field goal from Bill Claus as time expired in the half.

UT (5-3, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) kept its offensive surge going in the third quarter, too. Isaiah Ballard's 56-yard return on the opening kickoff of the second half was followed immediately by Adonis Thomas' 35-yard touchdown to give the Rockets a 24-17 advantage.

Ball State (2-6, 1-3) appeared milliseconds from re-tying the game with four seconds remaining in the third quarter, but running back MiQuale Lewis fumbled while switching the ball from his right hand to his left at the 1-yard line without any defenders around him. The ball rolled through the end zone and out of bounds, resulting in a touchback and giving Toledo the ball at its own 20-yard line.

The Rockets followed with a game-sealing 16-play scoring drive, fueled by Dantin's one-yard run for a crucial fourth-down conversion deep in Ball State territory and then capped by his four-yard touchdown run with 7:56 remaining.

Dantin totaled 58 yards on the ground, while completing 14 of 18 passes for 197 yards. He also threw a pair of interceptions in the first quarter, one of which Ball State turned into seven points on its ensuing possession.

Thomas posted a career-high 130 yards on 19 carries as the Rockets racked up a season-high 249 rushing yards.

Meanwhile, UT's defense held the Cardinals to just 55 yards of offense in the second quarter and 78 total yards in the third quarter. The Rockets also grabbed three interceptions and forced a fumble in the contest.

Ball State scored on its first possession when Ian McGarvey booted a 35-yard field goal from the right hash with 11:13 left in the first quarter, capping a 10-play, 51-yard drive.

The Cardinals added to their lead following a poor 24-yard punt by UT redshirt freshman Vince Penza gave them possession at their own 46-yard line. Freshman wideout Jack Tomlinson slipped through the Rockets' secondary, and freshman quarterback Keith Wenning found him for a 42-yard TD bomb down the middle of the field at the 4:44 mark.

Dantin's second interception on the first play of UT's ensuing possession set up Ball State's final score of the quarter. Jason Pinkston stepped in front of Dantin's pass intended for junior tight end Danny Noble along the left sideline, and he returned it to the UT 26-yard line.

Wenning then found Tomlinson again standing just across the goal line in the right flat for a four-yard TD pass with 1:43 left in the first quarter.

The Rockets finally answered on their next possession. Thomas broke several tackles for a 22-yard run on the first play of the series, then Williams followed with a 15-yard scamper through a huge hole up the middle.

Three plays later, Page hauled in a pass from Dantin in the right flat, cut up the right sideline and turned on the afterburners before diving over the pylon for a 48-yard score on the first snap of the second quarter. The play was reviewed and stood as called.

Dantin scored his team-high seventh rushing TD of the season with 6:15 left in the first half, and Claus' field goal followed safety Mark Singer's interception at the 5:38 mark in the second quarter.

Wenning was intercepted a second time with 9:03 left in the third quarter by Ballard, who ripped the ball away from Tomlinson at the 50.

Ball State finally broke through with 12 seconds left in the contest on Torey Gibson's 12-yard TD catch, then successfully executed an onside kick to give the Cardinals the ball back at their own 45-yard line.

Since no member of the receiving team touched the ball during the onside kick, Ball State still had 12 seconds to work with.

Wenning used up six seconds on first down attempting a pass to Briggs Orsbon along the left sideline on first down. Then Desmond Marrow intercepted Wenning's hail mary heave on the final play of the game.

Wenning finished 19-of-39 passing for 224 yards. Lewis added 96 yards on 19 carries as the Cardinals were outgained 446-357.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.



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