Toledo teams have presented their share of problems through the years for Western Michigan. The Rockets have won 11 of the last 13 meetings dating to 1989, including a 41-35 decision in Toledo last year. Western Michigan captured the last encounter in Waldo Stadium, a 21-14 win in 2000.
Nov. 6, 2001 * Toledo, Ohio
Western Michigan scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, but fell short of its comeback bid in a 41-35 setback to Toledo in a MAC game before a national viewing audience on ESPN. Quarterback Jeff Welsh made his first start in three weeks and promptly led WMU to a pair of scores before leaving the game with a broken collarbone in the second quarter. Jon Drach replaced Welsh and turned in a solid effort, completing 16-of-24 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Drach found Mobolaji Afariogun on a 12-yard pattern and connected with running back Philip Reed from 14 yards out. The Rockets, who led 31-14 at halftime, proved too tough to stop on the ground as Chester Taylor rushed for 203 yards on 30 carries in becoming the school's all-time leading rusher. WMU pulled to within six points with 1:59 left in regulation when Sam Reynolds' blocked punt was returned for a touchdown by redshirt freshman Scott Robinson. Bryan Lape led WMU with 16 tackles.
BYEING THEIR TIME
With three touchdown returns spread among Tyrone Walker (two on kickoffs) and Kendrick Mosley (one on a punt), it would seem logical both players would rank highly among their MAC peers. Neither player, however, appears among the league return leaders due to statistical minimums set by the NCAA. Walker's 31.8 return average would easily top the MAC, but he is one return short of qualifying based on a 1.2 per game minimum. Mosley's 14.0 average would be tied for second-best in the MAC, but he has played in only 70 percent of WMU's games, as opposed to the 75 percent requirement. With two games remaining, both players are expected to show up in the MAC's final statistical report.
Tony Carr's three interceptions on Saturday were the most by a Bronco since Dick Trudeau's three-interception game against West Texas State in 1966. Three other players have recorded three or more picks in a game with the record being four. On the season, WMU's secondary has swiped 13 passes, the most during Darnell's tenure, and the highest total since the 1995 Broncos intercepted 16 passes.
Western Michigan will make its fifth television appearance of the season this Saturday as part of the MAC "Game of the Week" package produced by FOX Sports Net. The Broncos have played on television 28 times over the past six seasons.
Robert Menchinger booted the second game-winning field goal of his career Saturday with a career-long effort of 39 yards with 12 seconds remaining. Menchinger converted on all three of his field goals tries in the second half versus EMU. The sophomore kicker had not attempted a field goal since losing the starting job to Anthony Apa during the Michigan game * Apa, incidently, is still the only MAC kicker perfect for the year on PAT attempts (22-for-22) * Tyrone Walker's 100-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff Saturday matched a school record accomplished twice before by Lovell Coleman * RB Philip Reed, limited to first-half action the past two weeks due to injuries, is 89 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season. Reed has been named to the official candidates list for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back * backup RB Daniel Marks rushed for 97 yards on 21 carries (4.6 avg.) against the Eagles * it's been a season for the ages in one respect: WMU players have turned in the best rushing game in 23 years (Reed vs. NIU), intercepted the most passes in a game in 36 years (Carr vs. EMU) and returning the longest kickoff for a touchdown in 44 years (Walker vs. EMU) * FS Carlos Smith and CB Sam Reynolds returned to the starting lineup Saturday after battling through ailments * the Brown & Gold rank sixth nationally in kickoff return average (25.06) and 22nd in passing offense (270.9) * twenty-two WMU seniors will dress for their final game in Waldo Stadium on Saturday * the Broncos conclude their 97th season next Saturday at Central Michigan.
QUOTING DARNELL ON THE EMU GAME:
"Those last three minutes you had all the emotions. We did a great job of clock management on defense. We had 58 seconds to get something done. Our goal was to get inside the 25-yard line, once we got inside the 20, we were in business."
"They are the defending MAC Champions and if they can win on Saturday, they will create a showdown with Northern Illinois for the West Division title. There's a lot at stake for them, and for us as well."
Toledo enters this week's contest still in the hunt for the MAC West Division title. The Rockets control their own destiny with match-ups against Northern Illinois and Bowling Green still on the docket. Tom Amstutz's club is the second highest scoring team in the MAC (34.2) and the toughest to score upon (22.6). UT lost 12 starters from last year's championship team, but haven't appeared to miss a beat generating 467.7 yards of offense per game. The backfield tandem of William Bratton (639 yards) and Astin Martin (400) are averaging over 5.5 yards per carry. Senior QB Brian Jones, meanwhile, is completing 70.9 percent of his passes, having thrown for 2,099 yards and 13 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Toledo also features two of the top linebackers in the circuit with seniors Tom Ward (13.2) and David Gardner (12.1) ranking second and third in tackles per game. Senior WR Dont* Greene is one of the biggest return threats in the league, standing second in kickoff return (25.5) and punt return average (14.0).