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Published: Wednesday, 11/21/2012

Fluellen, Owens injuries put Toledo depth in spotlight

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo running David Pasquale filled in for the injured David Fluellen. Toledo running David Pasquale filled in for the injured David Fluellen.
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Quarterback Terrance Owens was not the only University of Toledo offensive starter to miss the final regular season game with an ankle injury.

Running back David Fluellen, whom the university is pushing as an All-America candidate, was in street clothes for Tuesday’s affair against Akron after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the second half of last week’s loss at Northern Illinois. Fluellen, who ascended this season from understudy to star, roamed the sideline on crutches.

In his place was sophomore Cassius McDowell, who rushed for a touchdown last week, and senior David Pasquale.

Fluellen’s absence is a blow to his case for postseason awards, denying him a chance to increase his totals of 1,460 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He saw his streak of six straight games with 100 yards or more come to an end last week when he carried 22 times for 79 yards.

Depth at running back has been a concern since the preseason — with Fluellen and McDowell leading a group of nondescript backs — but it did not become an issue until Fluellen hobbled off the field in the third quarter of last week’s 31-24 setback. He re-entered briefly before his ankle tightened, forcing him to miss the remainder of the game.

Coach Matt Campbell hinted Friday that Fluellen would be out. His prognosis of Owens’ ankle, which has bothered him all season, seemed more favorable.

Should Toledo receive an invitation to a bowl game, Fluellen and Owens would have several weeks to mend.

SENIOR NIGHT: Seniors making a rare start on senior night were quarterback Austin Dantin, who lost his job after the season opener; defensive end Colby Kratch, who played two seasons at Toledo after transferring from a junior college in North Dakota; and receivers Jimmy Davidson and Sam Gaymon, who have caught a combined zero catches.

The team’s 18 seniors, who were 30-19 in their careers heading into the night, were honored on the field prior to the game.

SPECIAL VISITORS: Toledo quarterback commit Logan Woodside attended the game, along with fellow pledges Austin Niswander (linebacker, Findlay) and Victor Cave (linebacker, Cincinnati Glen Este).

Woodside, of Kentucky, led Franklin County High School to its first regional championship game in 33 years, throwing for 41 touchdowns and rushing for 11 more. He said he will make his official visit to Toledo in early December and plans to be accompanied by one of his teammates. Receiver Ryan Timmons, a three-star prospect with 96 career touchdowns, is being pursued by several BCS programs. He’s considering joining his close friend at Toledo. Ohio State is courting Timmons but has not extended an offer.

BEIER OUT: The voice of the Rockets, WSPD’s Mark Beier, is suffering from an illness that caused him to miss only his second game since he joined the broadcast team in 1995.

His only other absence came in 2002 and was due to a scheduling conflict when Beier accompanied the Toledo men’s basketball team to Northern Illinois. Replacing him Tuesday was veteran broadcaster Michael Reghi, who covers Mid-American Conference football and basketball games on TV.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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