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HomeSportsUT
Published: Sunday, 9/9/2012

Rockets somber after injury

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Moments after laughing while explaining the rationale behind his bold decision to cut off his hallmark dreadlocks, Jermaine Robinson fought back tears.

University of Toledo's senior safety does not recall with clarity what happened in the seconds before he administered a blow to the head of Wyoming's Brett Smith that sent the quarterback to the hospital.

Smith, who gave the Rockets fits all day in Toledo's 34-31 win, was taken away on a stretcher after a frightening sequence midway through the fourth quarter. As cornerback Chris Dukes yanked Smith to the ground -- drawing a personal foul for a horse-collar tackle -- Robinson flew in and delivered a forearm blow to Smith's helmet. The diagnosis -- a concussion -- comes as good news to those who feared Smith might have suffered damage to his neck or spine. He was unconscious after the hit but gave the crowd a thumb's up as he was carted away. A Wyoming spokesman said Smith was walking at the hospital.

"I can't remember what happened," Robinson said, his eyes watering. "It was so fast. It was like a bang-bang play that happens in football. I know he's going to do everything he can to get back, and we're just going to pray for him and hope he gets better."

Spectators voiced their displeasure over what they deemed a dirty play, showering Toledo with boos. Some Wyoming fans screamed at the Rockets as they exited the field after the game, one accusing coach Matt Campbell of fielding "a dirty team." Campbell disagrees.

"I really don't think our kids are dirty kids," Campbell said. "I think our kids play really hard and to the whistle. It's really unfortunate that injury happened. Fans are emotional, and they reacted to the situation. I think when they sit down and really look at the situation, I'm sure they won't react the same way."

Wyoming, which finished off that drive with a short touchdown, was unable to advance the ball past midfield on its final drive. No one was arguing that Smith, who totaled 401 yards and threw for two touchdowns, wouldn't have given the Cowboys a better chance than back-up Colby Kirkegaard.

"That dude is a great competitor," Robinson said. "In my four years, he's probably the most competitive player I've ever played against."

Two horse-collar penalties were called, one against each team.

"We were just frustrated that our starting quarterback got hit and was down like that," Wyoming receiver Dominic Rufran said.

HAIR TODAY: Robinson said his teammates didn't recognize him when he arrived to practice with a short buzz cut. After his helmet popped off twice last week -- rendering him to the sidelines when Arizona attacked for a long touchdown pass against Robinson's stand-in -- Robinson concluded less bulk on his head would keep his helmet in place and benefit the team.

"If I have to cut my hair for us to win and stay in the game, that's what I have to do," Robinson said.

SHORT YARDS: Campbell didn't have a prognosis on defensive tackle Danny Farr, who left in the first half with a knee injury. ... Jeremiah Detmer was 2-for-4 on field goals. Detmer recorded touchbacks on all seven of his kickoffs, upping his season total to 10. He had six last year. ... David Fluellen notched a career-high 109 rushing yards. His previous best was 93.



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