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Rockets pull out thrilling Homecoming victory, 20-15

Senior quarterback Logan Woodside threw for 289 yards and sophomore safety Kahlil Robinson intercepted two passes to lead Toledo to a hard-fought 20-15 victory over Eastern Michigan in UT’s Homecoming game at the Glass Bowl Saturday.

Robinson, starting in his first game as a collegian, picked off his second pass at the UT 31-yard line with 55 seconds left in the game to snuff out a last-minute Eagle rally and clinch the Rocket victory.

Redshirt freshman Shakif Seymour celebrated his touchdown in the second quarter.

Woodside completed 23 of 34 passes on the day. His top target was sophomore Diontae Johnson, who caught eight passes for 97 yards. Sophomore Art Thompkins, starting in place of the injured Terry Swanson, led the rushing attack with 94 yards on 15 carries. The Rockets out-gained Eastern Michigan, 419-326, holding the Eagles to just 73 yards rushing on 23 attempts.

Toledo’s leading receiver, senior Cody Thompson, was injured early in the game and never returned. Head Coach Jason Candle said after the game that Thompson suffered a leg injury and likely is lost for the season.

UT (4-1, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) got on the board first on its first possession on a 27-yard field goal by Jameson Vest. But it was a costly drive, as Thompson was injured following a 32-yard pass completion. Both teams missed field goals on the next two drives, EMU from 50 yards and the Rockets from 21 yards out on a fumbled snap.

Eastern Michigan (2-3, 0-2 MAC) took the lead on the next to final play of the first quarter on an 11-yard pass from Brogan Roback to Johnnie Niupalau. The score capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive. The extra point was no good, giving the Eagles a 6-3 edge.

Toledo had a chance to tie the score midway through the second quarter, but Vest’s 35-yard attempt sailed wide left. The Rockets broke through on their next possession, however. Woodside drove the offense 52 yards in eight plays, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Shakif Seymour on fourth down that gave UT a 10-6 edge going into the locker room.

Toledo extended the lead to 17-6 midway through the third quarter on an 18-yard touchdown run by sophomore Art Thompkins. The score came after UT failed to punch the ball into the end zone on fourth and goal from the one-yard line. A short punt and a penalty by EMU that gave UT the ball on Eastern’s 18-yard line, and Thompkins scored on the next play.

The Eagles trimmed the lead to 17-9 on a 46-yard field goal by Paulie Fricano with 6:08 left in the third quarter. Later in the fourth quarter, EMU struck again when Roback hit Antoine Porter for a 12-yard TD. It appeared that the Eagles tied the contest with a two-point conversion, but a video review revealed that Porter’s foot was out of bounds on his catch in the back of the end zone.

Vest’s second field goal of the day, a 20-yarder, moved Toledo’s lead to 20-15 with 2:58 to play. In EMU’s final drive, Roback completed a pass on fourth and nine for a first down to the UT 37-yard line with a little more than one minute left in the game. A holding call moved the ball back to the 47-yard line, then Robinson finished off the victory with his interception.

The Rockets resume MAC action next week at Central Michigan.