Rockets down Broncos, 41-35

TOLEDO, Ohio - The referee's whistle was about the only thing that could stop Chester Taylor.

Taylor ran for 203 yards on 30 carries and scored twice in Toledo's 41-35 victory over Western Michigan on Tuesday night.

Taylor would have had even more yards if he would not have been ruled down before breaking loose on what appeared to be a 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Television replays showed Taylor's knee didn't touch the ground.

"I just caught my balance," he said. "If my knee would've hit, I would've stopped. That was a long run."

Taylor, who topped the 100-yard mark for the 22nd time, pushed his career total to 4,283 yards, breaking the school record of 4,153 set by Wasean Tait from 1993-98.

Western coach Gary Darnell came away impressed.

"I think he's a major league player," Darnell said.

The Rockets (7-1, 4-1) remained in contention in the Mid-American Conference race, but will need help getting to the league championship game.

Toledo, the preseason favorite in the MAC and ranked in the Top 25 before losing to Ball State two weeks ago, must beat Eastern Michigan next week and Ball State must lose to Northern Illinois if the Rockets are to have a chance to win the MAC West.

Western (4-5, 3-3) had two crucial special-teams mistakes that turned the game around in the first half.

The first came when Jehu Anderson blocked Adam Anderson's punt and Corey Morris scooped it up and ran 15 yards into the end zone to give Toledo a 14-7 lead with 2:42 left in the first quarter.

Western had no trouble moving the ball and trailed just 21-14 when Ron Rogers fumbled on a kickoff return midway into the second quarter.

Toledo kicker Todd France recovered at the Western 24 and the Rockets scored two plays later, with Tavares Bolden finding Adam Clarke wide open over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

"It was just too much too early," Darnell said. "We were always playing catchup."

The Broncos suffered a big blow when quarterback Jeff Welsh was knocked out of the game on their next possession.

Welsh, making his first start in two weeks after suffering a collapsed lung, went down hard on his right shoulder and broke his collarbone after scrambling for a first down.

Welsh was nearly unstoppable before he was injured. He was 8-of-11 for 144 yards and two touchdowns midway through the first half.

He connected with Antonio Thomas on scoring plays of 39 and 18 yards.

Welsh spent the second half watching from the sidelines and is finished for the season.

Still, the Broncos weren't done.

Backup Jonathan Drach threw two touchdown passes in the second half. And when Scott Robinson returned a blocked punt 21 yards, the Broncos trailed just 41-35 with 1:59 to play.

Toledo then recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.

"That game was closer than the fans were thinking," said Toledo coach Tom Amstutz.

Toledo's offense struggled in the second half, but was impressive in much of the first half.

Taylor capped a 78-yard game-opening drive with a 1-yard TD run, and caught a 9-yard pass from Bolden that put Toledo up 21-14 with 12:22 to go in the second quarter.

Taylor, slowed by a sprained right ankle earlier in the season, is the nation's second leading scorer with 14.5 points per game.


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