Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
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Loss at BG still fresh for UT duo

During his pursuit of becoming the University of Toledo's all-time leading receiver, Eric Page has shown he's not one to live in the past.

The junior wideout said he wasn't even aware that he had broken Stephen Williams' career receptions record until there was an announcement over the Glass Bowl loudspeakers during the Rockets' win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

That's to be expected considering he's perused the school record book just one time for a passing moment.

Throughout his career, Page has spent very little time looking back on his accomplishments. He's very much at ease with his achievements, and his failures for that matter.

Two years ago in UT's 38-24 loss at Bowling Green, Page fumbled away the ball deep in Falcon territory with 3:15 remaining while the Rockets were driving for a game-tying touchdown. BG took over and drove nearly the entire length of the field for a game-sealing touchdown.

It was a brutal twist of fate for a player who was the top receiver on the field that day with a game-high 130 receiving yards on seven catches, and prompted Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson to console Page as he walked off the field at the end of the game.

When asked earlier this week if he'd like to go back and replay that pivotal moment in his first taste of the Battle of I-75, Page replied that he wouldn't change a thing.

"I don't wish I could replay it, just because I think it helped me out to get where I'm at right now," he said. "Without that moment, who knows what could have happened?

"I just think it's important to have that feeling of what happened and not to let that happen again."

Football players are taught the "24-hour rule" at a young age, but Page admitted the loss to the Falcons stuck with him for a while.

"It was tough to get over," he said, "especially because it was against our rival and we were a game away from being bowl eligible. But I had good people around me to help me through it. After the game, I had Steve [Williams] and my coaches there to help ease it away."

Page said he has called on those feelings of despair he had walking off the field at Doyt Perry Stadium that day a few different times in his career, including in last year's 33-14 victory over the Falcons at the Glass Bowl.

He'll undoubtedly be reminded of that play as the Rockets return to Bowling Green on Saturday for a noon matchup.

"This game means a lot to me personally," Page said. "In high school, I never beat Bowling Green. We beat the college last year, and that was my first time beating them."

Another one of Page's teammates who got his first up-close experience of the rivalry with the Falcons as a freshman is quarterback Austin Dantin.

Dantin started in place of injured senior Aaron Opelt in 2009 and completed 23-of-38 passes for a career-high 326 yards with two interceptions.

"I just learned how hard-fought this rivalry is," Dantin said.

"It's just a bigger game and people's desire to win this game is so much greater.

"It just shows how much this rivalry means."

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

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