Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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UT could be OK without Fluellen


Toledo president Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, left, United States Naval Academy superintendent vice admiral Michael H. Miller, center, and U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari dedicate the permanent POW-MIA seat at the Glass Bowl.

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In the spirit of gamesmanship, University of Toledo coach Matt Campbell probably won’t declare anything of substance this week about the health status of running back David Fluellen.

The Rockets, prepping for the I-75 Rivalry game against Bowling Green, don’t figure to be a benevolent adversary by disclosing inside information of which can be used against them. Call it a hunch, but Fluellen, who hurt his back in Saturday’s 45-44 double-overtime win over Navy, will be ruled a game-time decision for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff at BG’s Perry Stadium.

BG certainly would prefer to play a Fluellen-less Toledo, as he is his team’s best player not to mention a grinding back that wears away at a defense. His understudies are no slouches, though, which was one of the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s 321-yard rushing performance.

Freshmen Kareem Hunt and Damion Jones-Moore, each a big-time score for the Rockets in the past two recruiting classes, filled in splendidly after Fluellen exited early in the fourth quarter.

Hunt was called upon first and delivered with 127 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. All are career highs, all by wide margins. By the time he replaced Fluellen, Hunt already had ripped off a 52-yard touchdown run.

Hunt, a big back in the mold of Fluellen, ripped off four consecutive first-quarter runs totaling 31 yards.

Jones-Moore, who has been in and out of the backfield rotation, converted on fourth-and-1 to extend a drive in the first OT. He scored his third score this season moments later on a 1-yard run.

Another back, junior Cassius McDowell, spent the day at home in Florida dealing with a personal matter, according to Campbell. McDowell is expected to rejoin the team this week.

“We have a ton of confidence in our running backs,” Campbell said. “That room is pretty special.”

Whether Fluellen rejoins the others this week in full health will be a big question heading into the BG game. But not as big perhaps as it was before Saturday.

POW-MIA SEAT: Toledo designated a permanently unoccupied seat in the Glass Bowl in honor of military service personnel who were or are prisoners of war or have been declared missing in action.

A dedication ceremony took place at 11:45 a.m. A scheduled pregame flyover was canceled because of rain.

SIX SACKS: Despite yielding a whopping 514 yards, Toledo’s defense produced some impressive stats. None jump off the page faster than the six sacks against quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Allen Covington had 2.5 of them, and Treyvon Hester had 0.5. Recording one sack a piece were Trent Voss, Jayrone Elliott, and Ray Bush.

Those numbers may be inflated as Reynolds (5 of 12, 95 yards) was not looking to pass on many of the sacks.

With Navy running 94 times, it’s no surprise the Rockets enjoyed some huge tackle numbers. Junior Sylvestre made 17 stops followed by Chase Murdock’s 15 and Voss’ 14. Elliott recorded 13.

SHORT YARDS: Navy traveled 96 yards on 10 plays for a fourth-quarter TD to close to within 31-28. ... A 14-yard punt by Toledo’s Vince Penza before halftime gave Navy a short field it turned into a 55-yard touchdown drive with under a minute left. ... Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens was 11 of 20 for 105 yards. He was intercepted before halftime but hooked up with Bernard Reedy for the game-winner in the second OT.

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

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