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Rockets Best `Cats in Conference Opener

Sept. 11, 2010

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ATHENS, Ohio - In the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams, the Toledo Rockets beat the Bobcats by a final score of 20-13 at Peden Stadium on Saturday night. A fourth-quarter Toledo touchdown on a drive that spanned 14 plays and took nearly eight minutes off the clock proved to be the difference in the game. Ohio dropped to 1-1 (0-1 MAC) on the season while the Rockets improved to 1-1 (1-0 MAC).

Noah Keller led the Ohio defense with 11 total tackles, a blocked field goal, the recovery of the blocked field goal and a sack. Quarterback Boo Jackson (Gardena, Calif.) completed 17 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown. Vince Davidson (Dayton, N.J.) was the leading rusher for the Green and White, accumulating 22 yards on 12 carries.

Toledo threatened early, putting together a significant drive on its first possession. The drive eventually stalled, and the Rockets were forced to attempt a 42-yard field goal. Senior linebacker Keller (Kearney, Neb.) blocked and recovered the kick to prevent the visitors from scoring on their first drive.

Ohio's opening possession ended in a turnover with an interception from Toledo's Dan Molls. Molls returned the ball 28 yards to the Bobcat two-yard line, giving the Rockets great field position. They were able to capitalize on second and goal from the two yard line when David Pasquale rumbled into the endzone for the game's opening score.

With 3:04 remaining in the first quarter, the Bobcats were able to get on the board as Matt Weller (Twinsburg, Ohio) hit a 49-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.

Ohio struck again just moments later. Jackson found wideout Riley Dunlop (Liberty Township, Ohio) for a 35-yard touchdown through the middle of the Toledo defense. The reception and ensuing point-after try put the `Cats up 10-7 with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. The 35-yarder was the longest touchdown catch of the redshirt junior's career. Also, the touchdown pass was the 21st of Jackson's career, placing him in a tie for fourth place in Ohio's record books with Bill Frederick, who quarterbacked the Green and White from 1951-54.

Toledo's second interception of the night put the Rockets in advantageous field position. Archie Donald stepped in front of a pass and returned it for 20 yards to start Toledo's drive at Ohio's five-yard line. The visitors then scored a touchdown on quarterback Austin Dantin's two-yard scramble to go up 13-10. Danny Noble tried to run in a two-point conversion attempt but was stopped short by Ohio's special teams unit, specifically Dak Notestine (Bellefontaine, Ohio) and Ernie Hodge (Dublin, Va.)

The `Cats weren't content to face a deficit at halftime as they put together a 12-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in a 23-yard field goal by Weller that tied the game as time expired. The field goal was the 25th of Weller's career, tying him for fourth place all-time in Ohio's record books along with three other former Bobcats.

Julian Posey (Cincinnati, Ohio) was a defensive force in the second half, breaking up two passes early in the third quarter. The second was his 19th career pass defended, placing him in sole possession of seventh place all-time in Bobcat history.

Other notable second half defensive/special teams plays for Ohio included an 11-yard sack by Keller which pushed back a Toledo field goal (one that was ultimately missed wide) and a career-high 54-yard punt by Paul Hershey (Fremont, Ohio).

Ohio and Toledo traded possessions throughout the third quarter, with neither team being able to break the deadlock in the first fifteen minutes of the second half.

That changed in the fourth quarter when the Rockets reaped the benefits of a methodical 14-play, 84-yard drive that lasted 7:47. A 24-yard touchdown pass from Dantin to Kenny Stafford and the ensuing PAT put the visitors ahead 20-13 with 13:48 remaining in the contest.

The Bobcats fought back, putting together a late drive of their own. However, a decisive fourth-and-seven sack by Toledo's Molls put an end to it, keeping Ohio seven points behind with only 2:10 to play. After holding the Rockets on the next drive, the Bobcats inherited the ball with 23 ticks on the clock. The `Cats were unable to score on their final possession and dropped their first conference contest of the season.

The Bobcats will next face off against current No. 2 Ohio State on Sept. 18 in Columbus. Game time is set for noon.

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