Chippewas Fall to Toledo, 27-22

TOLEDO, Ohio - It was a bittersweet homecoming for Central Michigan University quarterback Kent Smith. The 6-5, 210-pounder from Toledo's Start High set two school records but it wasn't enough as the University of Toledo held on for a 27-22 Mid-American Conference football win here Saturday night.

Kent Smith completed a school-record 29 passes in 42 attempts for 385 yards (third best in school annals) and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 61 yards and another TD on 15 carries to finish with a school-record 446 yards in total offense. "Kent is starting to compete the way I want him to," said CMU mentor Brian Kelly. "He's getting better each week. He ran the spread offense against Toledo closer to the way it's designed to work. If he continues to improve, we'll have a good quarterback at CMU."

The loss dropped the Chippewas to 2-5 for the season and 1-3 in MAC action while the Rockets are 6-2 and 5-0 in the league.

Toledo held the upper hand in the first half, claiming a 24-10 lead at intermission.

However, unlike a week before when a 7-3 halftime deficit ended in a 42-10 loss at Northern Illinois, the Chippewas held on and controled much of the second half.

"Last week, when we started slipping down the rope, we let go," said Kelly. "This week, we held on. Nobody believed me last week when I said we were getting better after the NIU loss.

"We're darn disappointed that we lost this football game but I'm proud of our effort. We're going to keep on knocking on that wall until it comes down."

Toledo upped its lead to 27-10 in third period on a 23-yard field goal by Jason Robbins but that was it for scoring for UT in the second half.

Central Michigan scored twice in the fourth period to cut the margin to 27-22 but also missed a field goal and an extra point that may have changed the entire outcome.

Smith teammed with Damien Linson on a 22-yard scoring pass with 10:02 remaining while Smith capped the scoring on a two-yard run with 2:52 to play.

CMU did get the football back but had 80 yards to go with less than 50 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. The Chippewas ended up fumbling the ball away.

Special teams played a big part in the Chippewa loss.

Not only did CMU miss two short kicks (one the extra point) but Toledo's Lance Moore returned a punt 89 yards for a TD in the first half.

"We had been playing well on special teams, so it was disappointing that special teams had a big part in the outcome," Kelly said.

Moore also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass and finished with nine catches for 110 yards. UT QB Bruce Gradkowski completed 28 of 41 passes for 329 yards and ran seven yards for a score for the Rockets.

After Moore caught his touchdown pass from Gradkowski, Smith threw a 65-yard TD pass to Linson to close Central Michigan to 10-7. Moore's punt return and Gradkowski's TD run put the Rockets ahead 24-7.

CMU's Jerry Seymour also had an outstanding game, rushing 26 times for 107 yards and also catching nine passes for 86 yards. Dave Kurzen and Justin Harper each caught six passes for 67 and 63 yards, respectively, while Obed Cetoute had five for 69 yards.

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