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Bobcats Suffer 30-21 Loss to Toledo

Nov. 4, 2005

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ATHENS, Ohio - Despite Kalvin McRae's fourth straight 100-yard rushing game, the Ohio football team lost 30-21 to Toledo in front of 21,034 fans at Peden Stadium and a national television audience Friday night.

"Toledo is a very good football team in all areas and there's a reason why their program is where it's at and why they went to a bowl game last year," said Ohio head coach Frank Solich. "I don't see any truly weak areas on that football team either offensively or defensively, so we're striving to get our program where their program is at."

McRae, a sophomore tailback from Decatur, Ga., carried the ball 22 times for 114 yards and a touchdown, pushing his season total to 1,051 yards and making him the first Bobcat to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a season since Chad Brinker (1,099) in 2002.

Toledo began the game with nine-play, 73-yard drive that resulted in a 24-yard field goal by Jason Robbins for a 3-0 lead.

Ohio responded right back, however, taking the ball 75 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd-and-goal from the two-yard line, junior quarterback Austen Averson (Brentwood, Tenn.) found his way into the end zone and a Matt Miller (Westerville, Ohio) point-after made it a 7-3 Bobcat lead with 6:19 left in the opening quarter.

On the following possession, Rocket quarterback Bruce Gradkowski capped a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 20-yard scoring strike to Trinity Dawson. After the PAT, Toledo led 10-7 with 3:50 remaining in the first period.

Ohio stayed with the high-powered Rockets, though, and managed another scoring drive. After a 38-yard kickoff return by junior Scott Mayle (Philippi, W.Va.), the Bobcats went 59 yards in just five plays, the final one being a five-yard touchdown run by McRae and the first quarter ended with Ohio leading 14-10.

The Bobcats gained 113 total yards in the first quarter but managed only 31 in the second quarter as Toledo took the lead on a Gradkowski one-yard sneak into the end zone with 5:43 left in the half. The Rockets tacked on another 24-yard field goal before the quarter ended and took a 20-14 advantage into the locker room.

The second half began with a three-and-out by the Ohio offense but Toledo's first drive was halted by a Dion Byrum (Matthews, N.C.) interception in the end zone. It marked the senior cornerback's sixth interception of the season, which leads the nation and ties him for fifth in school single-season records.

On their next possession, though, the Rockets extended their lead when Gradkowski again found Dawson for a scoring toss, this time for 18 yards. Dawson's second touchdown reception of the night capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive that gave the Rockets a 27-14 edge with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. The drive was kept alive by a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Bobcat sophomore Landon Cohen (Spartanburg, S.C.) after Toledo failed to convert on a 3rd-and-17 from its 31-yard line.

"We made a lot of mistakes tonight on defense," said Byrum. "We had a few opportunities to get them in punting situations and we blew it with penalties. We weren't sound like we were supposed to be."

On the following possession, however, Ohio put together a drive of its own and an Everson one-yard sneak on the first play of the fourth quarter pulled the Bobcats to within six points at 27-21.

Three possessions later, the Rockets moved into Ohio territory and Dawson ripped off a 33-yard run, taking the ball to the Bobcat 12-yard line. On the very next play, Dawson rushed to the right side and a hit by Bobcat freshman Michael Mitchell (Ft. Thomas, Ky.) caused the ball to pop into the air. Toledo recovered the fumble, though, and three plays later Robbins nailed a 21-yard field goal to make it 30-21 with 5:55 left in the game.

After that, Ohio's final two possessions ended with interceptions, sealing the win for the Rockets.

"We can't afford to miss tackles like we did in the ball game," said Solich. "There were a few things on offense that we certainly could have done better also but all in all, I was proud of our effort on the football field and I thought we played hard for four quarters. But we've also got to play smart because we hurt ourselves in some crucial situations."

For the game, Everson completed 13 of 22 attempts for 148 yards with two interceptions. The yardage total pushed him over the 2,000-yard plateau, giving him 2,131 career passing yards.

Gradkowski finished the contest 22-for-31 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. He also gained 51 yards and a touchdown on six carries. Dawson carried the ball 28 times for a career-high 169 yards in addition to making both of his team's touchdown grabs.

On the defensive end, junior linebacker Tyler Russ (Stetsonville, Wis.) led the Bobcats with a career-high 16 tackles. Junior linebacker Matt Muncy (Miamisburg, Ohio) added 12 stops while sophomore safety Tony Ward (Beaumont, Texas) posted a career-best 11 tackles.

Ohio now has 11 days before its next contest, a 7:30 p.m. game at Akron on Nov. 15 that will be televised by ESPNU.