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Published: Wednesday, 9/28/2011

UT's Eric Page near several records

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo's Eric Page is pursued Boise State's George Iloka ,8, during the second quarter of their game the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Friday, September 16, 2011. Toledo's Eric Page is pursued Boise State's George Iloka ,8, during the second quarter of their game the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Friday, September 16, 2011.
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Not even halfway through his junior season at the University of Toledo, wide receiver Eric Page is only 10 catches away from becoming the school’s all-time leading pass catcher.

Stephen Williams, who played for the Rockets from 2006-09 and now is with the Arizona Cardinals, owns the record with 229 career receptions.

Page has 220 catches in just 21/2 seasons, and could surpass the 350-catch mark by the end of his ­career if he keeps up his current pace.

He’s also likely to break Williams’ record of 3,102 career receiving yards by the end of this season.

Page moved into third place in the record books with 14 catches for 168 yards last week in a 33-30 overtime loss at Syracuse, passing Steve Odom (216 catches from 2003-06). He needs three catches Saturday at Temple to pass Lance Moore, now with the New Orleans Saints, and move into second place.

“To me, it just says I’ve had great people around me,” said Page, a Springfield graduate. “I came in as a freshman behind the career leading guy, which is Stephen Williams, and he helped me a lot along the way, along with my [receivers] coach, coach [Jason] Candle. And we’ve had great quarterbacks to throw me the ball.”

Upon surpassing Moore (222 catches from 2001-04) during the 2009 season, Williams often told Page and others that he wouldn’t hold the record for long.

“He always told me when I was a freshman that I’d be able to do it,” said Page, who has been named Mid-American Conference West Division offensive player of the week twice in the last three weeks.

“I’ve just tried to follow what he told me and I think eventually it’ll pay off.”

In his usual humble and stoic form, Page said he hasn’t spent much time pondering his accomplishments or perusing the school record backs.

“I haven’t really had the time to sit back and look back on all of this,” said Page, a criminal justice major and former Blade player of the year at Springfield.

“I’m sure in a couple years I will, but right now I’m focused on Temple and what we have to do to win a championship this season.”

QB ROTATION: Despite a stellar performance from Dantin against Syracuse, UT coach Tim Beckman said Monday that the rotation at quarterback will continue this week against Temple between Dantin and sophomore Terrance Owens, provided Owens is healthy.

Owens “tweaked” his back sometime during the first quarter against the Orange and played in just two series, leaving Dantin the first opportunity he’s had this season to get in a rhythm on the field and not have to constantly look over his shoulder.

“Just having more time out there definitely helps,” Dantin said. “The more series I’m out there, I just feel like I can set things up for certain reads and get a better feel for what [the defense] is doing.”

Dantin was 22-of-32 passing for 258 yards with one touchdown and one interception against Syracuse — by far his best performance of the season.

Owens was 6-of-10 passing for 42 yards last week before exiting, but as long as he’s fully recovered from his back injury, he’ll be back out there Saturday against Temple.

“Right now [Dantin] is projected as our starter, and we’re going to keep doing the same thing we’ve done since Day 1,” Beckman said.

INJURY UPDATES: In the aftermath of playing BCS opponents for the last three weeks, the Rockets are dealing with a myriad of injuries.

Junior middle linebacker Danny Molls will sit out for the fourth straight week with an unspecified leg injury after originally targeting the Temple game for his return.

Senior running back Adonis Thomas is also out with a broken arm and will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks after having surgery to insert a plate and screws in his arm to stabilize the fracture.

Senior cornerbacks Desmond Marrow (concussion) and Taikwon Paige (hip/groin) are both questionable to play against the Owls, although UT will have senior Charles Rancifer back at the “star” — a safety/linebacker hybrid — after he sat out last week’s game at Syracuse with a pinched nerve in his neck.

“It does talk about the character of this football team, though,” Beckman said.

“We’re still fighting and played with a Big East team and still had a chance to win at the end of the game.”

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.



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