Rally Falls Short

Jason Feldpausch

The Western Michigan University football team (3-8, 2-5 MAC) saw its second half rally attempt fall short, due in large part to WMU miscues, in a 42-21 Mid-American Conference loss to Toledo (7-3, 5-1 MAC) Saturday afternoon at Waldo Stadium.

Western Michigan turned the ball over twice in the first half and once in the second, which led to 17 Toledo points, and couldn't come up with a defensive stop after pulling to within six points in the fourth quarter. The Broncos also added another interception late in the game and finished with four turnovers.

The Broncos received the opening kickoff, but on the first play from scrimmage wide receiver Antonio Thomas put the ball on the turf and the Rockets recovered the fumble. Quarterback Chad Munson found Thomas in the left flat, but as he was trying to fight for extra yardage, the ball was poked away.

WMU's defense responded, allowing the Rockets just four yards on three offensive plays, but redshirt freshman Jason Robbins was able to convert on a 33-yard field goal for the early 3-0 lead.

Munson found Kendrick Mosley for a 38-yard completion on the team's next drive, but the drive stalled and sophomore Robert Menchinger missed a 27-yard field goal (wide left) and UT took over on its own 10-yard line.

Western Michigan's second turnover led to another Toledo scoring play. The Rockets were able to cap a 60-yard drive with a 27-yard TD pass shortly before the end of the opening quarter. Quarterback Brian Jones' jailbreak screen pass found the hands of senior Carl Ford and two nice downfield blocks allowed him to run into the endzone untouched.

Early in the second quarter, Toledo put the ball on the ground, but was able to catch a break. WMU's Carlos Smith picked up the bouncing ball, but was unable to gain possession before he stepped out of bounds. Two plays later, Jones scampered 52 yards on a broken play to the WMU 12-yard line and eventually found tight end Andrew Clark on a three-yard scoring pass. The TD capped a nine-play, 86-yard drive and Jones accounted for 61 of the yards on the ground.

The rest of the half was all Toledo and the Rockets headed to their locker room with a 27-0 lead. Senior Donta Green returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown at the 7:36 mark and Robbins nailed a 30-yard field goal with two seconds left before halftime. The Broncos finished the opening 30 minutes of play with just 133 yards of total offense, while UT collected 247 yards of its own.

The Western Michigan offense finally got going in the second half, taking its opening drive of the frame 52 yards for a touchdown. Munson hit tight end Mobolaji Afariogun on a short pass and the senior did the rest, breaking tackles as he rumbled into the endzone.

Toledo was forced to punt on its next possession and the Broncos were finally able to catch a break as junior Jason Babin broke through for his second kick block of the season. WMU's luck continued later in the drive when another Munson interception was wiped out due to a roughing the passer call. Running back Philip Reed made the Rockets pay for their mistake by crossing the goal line from 10 yards away on a draw play.

WMU's comeback continued late in the third quarter. Safety Jason Feldpausch's MAC-leading fifth forced fumble of the season set the score at 27-21 with two seconds left in the third quarter. The junior from Fowler, Mich., literally took the ball from running back Quinton Broussard and scampered 59 yards to the endzone.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, the defensive unit was unable to come through when it was needed the most. Trailing by six and with momentum in hand, WMU allowed a 12-play, 81-yard drive that chewed up over five minutes of game clock. UT's Trinity Dawson ran into the endzone from 13 yards away to cap the drive and Jones, who had three Broncos converge on him at the 10-yard line, somehow broke through unscathed on the two-point conversion attempt. WMU now trailed 35-21 with 9:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Following another Bronco fumble, Toledo again crossed the goal line on a 36-yard TD run by the quarterback on fourth down. WMU's defense appeared confused following a Toledo timeout and was caught off guard by the lack of a punt. Jones dropped back to pass and needed one block to run untouched to the back of the endzone.

Munson finished the day 15-of-31 for 143 yards and had a pair of interceptions. Reed is now six yards short of 1,000 on the season after collecting 79 versus Toledo.

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