Ball State head coach Mike Neu walks down the sideline during the game against the University of Illinois on Sept. 2, 2017. Ball State lost to Illinois 24-21, bringing the Cardinals to 0-1 on the season. Robby General, DN
Ball State struggles with explosive plays in loss to Toledo
Coming into Thursday night’s contest, Toledo was known for its explosive offense, averaging over 500 yards per contest.
The Rockets offense didn’t disappoint.
Throughout the first quarter of Ball State’s 58-17 loss to Toledo, the BSU defense was able to contain star senior quarterback Logan Woodside and his offense - the Rockets only had 60 yards and three points in the first 15 minutes.
Toledo's offensive dominance
602 yards of total offense
267 yards passing
335 yards rushing
9.85 yards per carry
33.38 yards per completion
27 points in 3:15 TOP in 3rd quarter
However, one could see glimpses that it was only a matter of time until Toledo’s speed and talent on the offensive side of the ball got the most of the Ball State defense.
Toledo senior running back Terry Swanson broke off a 71-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the second quarter to erase Ball State’s early 7-3 lead and give the Toledo offense the momentum it needed to start getting things going.
Less than three minutes later, Woodside notched his first touchdown of the game, finding sophomore wide receiver Desmond Phillips for a 35-yard touchdown pass on an interior post route to extend the Rockets’ lead to 17-7.
“We’re going through some adversity right now as a team,” Ball State senior middle linebacker Jacob White said. “We’ve had a lot of stuff going on and we were in the right position to make a lot of those plays that they broke but we just didn’t finish.”
With just 1:21 left in the first half, the Ball State defense saw the Toledo offense strike again as Woodside found sophomore wide receiver Diontae Johnson on the near sideline. Ball State junior cornerback Marc Walton fell to the turf right as Johnson reeled in the ball, leaving no one between him and the end zone.
“We hung in there in the first half, [but when] we came back out there in the second half [we gave up] too many explosive plays,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said.
But it was truly the third quarter where Toledo’s speed was put on show.
The Rockets took just a 24-10 advantage into the break, but by the end of the quarter they were up 51-17.
In just 3:15 of possession, the Rockets racked off 27 points, 279 yards of total offense and returned a punt for a touchdown (it would have been two, but one was called back for holding).
“We got guys that can go fast and they score the ball from a lot of different ways wherever they touch it on the field,” Toledo head coach Jason Candle said. “Having a senior quarterback, he’s got the ability to get the guys in position and be successful and make those plays.”
Toledo was just six feet away from adding another touchdown before the quarter ended as running back Nevone McCrimmon was originally awarded a touchdown on the final play of the quarter, but it was ruled that McCrimmon stepped out at the two-yard line after video replay.
Toledo would punch it in two plays later on a read option by backup quarterback Michael Julian.
“I told the guys at the end of the game that we need to just stick together,” Neu said. “That’s the only option for us and make sure you have each other’s back. If you want to blame anybody blame me, but make sure we have each other’s back.”
By the time it was all over, Toledo racked up over 600 yards of offense in the victory. Ball State had just over half that amount.
“Obviously [Toledo’s] quarterback play is at a high level,” Neu said. “They got a lot of weapons around [Woodside] and not just on the perimeter. [They have] running backs, and they’ve done a good job, coach Candle and his staff.”
Ball State returns to the field on Thursday at 6 p.m. when it travels to Eastern Michigan.
Contact Sam Barloga with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.