Rockets Fall to Ball State

The University of Toledo Rockets closed out a 3 game home stand by doing something they haven't done in many years: they went winless. After an heroic battle with #25-ranked Fresno States, the Rockets followed with an embarrassing loss to lowly Florida International and then a shutout loss to undefeated Ball State.

The University of Toledo Rockets closed out a 3 game home stand by doing something they haven't done in many years: they went winless. After an heroic battle with #25-ranked Fresno States, the Rockets followed with an embarrassing loss to lowly Florida International. The players all said the right things after the FIU loss: invoked the 24 hour rule, refocus on the conference business at hand, work hard in practice. The coaches, for their part, ran them through a more intense practice on Sunday following that loss than is usual. All reports are that practice leading up to the Homecoming game against Ball State was very good. Or so it seemed.

Despite an offense that could charitably be described as anemic, the defense managed to keep Toledo in the game in the first half. How bad was the offense? Toledo had 10 yards in the first quarter and no first downs. Ball State, meanwhile, had a net 78 yards offense in the quarter, and scored a field goal on their first possession. The Rockets finished the half just as they began it – offensively. The Blue and Gold managed a mere 32 yards running and passing, while BSU moved the ball to the tune of 182 yards with a near 50-50 mix of runs and passes. Despite the play mix, the Rocket defense bent but didn't break in the quarter, and the half ended at 3-0 BSU. Time of possession was beginning to rear its ugly head, however, and began to take a toll.

Having kept BSU out of the endzone in the first half, the Rockets couldn't stop them in the 2nd. The Cardinals scored touchdowns twice in the 3rd quarter to open up a 17-0 lead, and added 2 more in the 4th for the 31-0 final score. The Rocket defense was on the field 5 minutes more than BSUs in both the 2nd and 3rd quarter, and they paid a heavy price. Defensive back Desmond Morrow agreed that it's tough to be on the field that much, but he wasn't allowing that as an excuse for not stopping the Cardinals' offense. "We're not complaining. We're still the defense. We still gotta go out and do our job. It's not going to be easy. We're not just going to be able to sit the whole game. Stuff happens in the game, so we just have to go do what we're supposed to do." Morrow credited the coaching staff with preparing them well for the Cardinals, but blamed execution for the outburst in the 2nd half.

Offensively, the Rockets couldn't seem to do anything right. The running game was removed from the field early on and never got back. DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams, who got the start, combined for a mere 12 yards on 11 carries in the 1st half, and finished the game a combined 36 yards on 16 carries. It didn't get much better through the air, as QB Aaron Opelt was 6 for 8 with an interception in the first half, but only tallied 28 yards, not even 5 yards per catch. Opelt finished 21 for 31 with 143 yards through the air.
The Rockets are left to try to regroup and prepare for a difficult task this coming week, the much anticipated trip to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines, who also lost on Saturday.



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