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Rockets complete first bowl practice, visit beach

The Toledo Rockets completed a morning practice Tuesday, their first of three sessions in preparation for their game against Florida International University at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Friday, Dec. 21.

The game will start at 12:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

Toledo senior Chris Green showed off his best moves in a dance-off contest at the beach bash at
the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Tuesday.

The Rockets had a 90-minute workout at Davies Field in Nassau, a turf soccer field not far from Robinson Stadium, where UT will battle the Golden Panthers.

In the afternoon, most players spent some free time at the beach while the captain took part in an up-close dolphin experience. In the early evening, the Rockets joined their opponents from FIU for a beach party on Atlantis Beach on the Caribbean Sea. The players enjoyed a cookout, beach games and a highly spirited team dance-off competition.

Toledo will practice Wednesday morning and again Thursday.

A few players will visit the Ranfurly Homes for Children and a youth football clinic on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Toledo cheerleaders and band will lead a team pep rally.






”This is a beautiful place. The Atlantis is second to none when it comes to facilities,” UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle, said. “The hospitality has been great; everybody we’ve interacted with has taken great care of us. We’re very fortunate and very lucky to be here.”



He added, ”Obviously, the extra practice time is huge for the growth and development of our younger players. But at the same time, we want to send our senior class out the right way with a victory. When these guys go home over break and talk to their family and friends about their bowl trip, we want them to be able to talk about a positive experience, and that includes a win on Friday.”



”We’re just focused on getting better and perfecting our craft, doing whatever we can do to win this game on Friday,” senior defensive end Tuzar Skipper said. “We’re not on vacation; this is a business trip. We want to go out with a victory.”



“The first practice was hot, but it was fun being out here in the heat,” junior center Bryce Harris said. “We’ve been practicing in Fetterman for all of our bowl practices, so being able to get outside and have a practice felt good.”



Rockets arrive in Bahamas, begin week of preparation for bowl battle Dec. 21

The Toledo Rockets arrived at the world-famous Atlantis resort Monday, the first day of their trip at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. Toledo (7-5) will face Florida International University (8-4) at Robinson Stadium Friday, Dec. 21.

The game will start at 12:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

Senior Tyler Taafe won a pinball competition against FIU Monday at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

The Rockets departed from Toledo Express Airport at 12:30 p.m. Monday and landed at Nassau Airport at 3:30, arriving at the hotel a short while later. Both Toledo and FIU attended a buffet dinner last evening and were treated to a musical and dance performance by a Junkanoo group. The teams then faced off in a pinball competition, which was won by UT senior Tyler Taafe.

Toledo will practice Tuesday morning and attend a beach party along with the FIU players at 4 p.m.

Other events during the week will include a visit to the Ranfurly Homes for Children and a youth football clinic Wednesday. On Thursday, the Toledo cheerleaders and band will lead a team pep rally.

“How awesome. Our kids are fired up,” UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle, said. “Any time you can get a reward for a great season and get to a bowl game, that’s really cool. To be able to bring it to another country and certainly a place we’re looking to spread our brand as a football team and university, it’s really exciting.”

“The excitement started way before we pulled in, when we found out we were coming down here,” senior wide receiver Cody Thompson said. “A lot of guys haven’t ever been out of the country — my last time was when I was young. Going to the Bahamas is something everyone talks about and dreams about, so I’m really excited to be here. It’s an amazing opportunity to play football outside of our home country.”

“I hope our guys enjoy the week,” Candle added. “It’s a good chance to balance a little bit of fun, and we want to send our senior class off the right way with a win. We want their last time in the Midnight Blue and Gold to be a memorable one.”

First-ever baby races set for upcoming basketball games

UT fans can see if their baby is the fastest crawler during two upcoming men’s and women’s home games in the first-ever Toledo Rockets’ Baby Race presented by Kroger.

The first race will take place during the men’s contest vs. Penn Saturday, Dec. 29, with the second occurring at halftime of the women’s game vs. Ball State Saturday, Jan. 5. Tip-off time for both contests is set for 2 p.m.

A maximum of five babies will compete in each race with one parent at the starting line and one parent at the finish line. The winning baby will receive a $100 Kroger gift card.

Individuals need to go to utrockets.com/babyrace to register. Registration will close Thursday, Dec. 27, at 1 p.m.

Each family selected to compete in the race will receive two free tickets and have the option to purchase additional tickets at a discounted price.

For questions, contact Adam Simpson in Athletics at adam.simpson@utoledo.edu.

Superhero night at men’s basketball game Dec. 15

Rockets fans can bring their children to meet Superman and Batman as part of Superhero Night, and watch the red-hot Toledo men’s basketball team face Middle Tennessee Saturday, Dec. 15, in Savage Arena.

Game time is 7 p.m. Gates will open at 6 p.m.

Tickets for Saturday’s contest as well as each of the Rockets’ games during their upcoming four-game homestand can be purchased for $7 as part of the Winter Spectacular. Ticket prices will increase to $9 on the day of each game.

The Rockets are 9-1 this season and ranked No. 6 in the latest Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

Following Saturday’s game against the Blue Raiders, UT will host Cornell Wednesday, Dec. 19; Penn Saturday, Dec. 29; and Ball State Friday, Jan. 4.

To purchase tickets for the Winter Spectacular, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, go online at the Toledo Rockets website, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653). The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as on game day.

Football player named Second-Team Academic All-America

Toledo senior wide receiver Cody Thompson has been named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America Second Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

He is Toledo’s first Academic All-American since Dan Molls earned First-Team honors in 2012.

Thompson, who earned Academic All-District honors in 2017, graduated last December with a 3.66 GPA in marketing. He is pursuing his master’s degree in recreation and leisure and holds a 3.83 graduate GPA.

Thompson has 43 receptions for 592 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, earning first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors for the second time in his career. He is Toledo’s all-time leader in career TD receptions (30) and ranks second all-time in receiving yards (3,257).

The native of Huron, Ohio, was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2016, catching 64 passes for a then school-record 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been on the official watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the top receiver in the country, in each of the past two seasons.

This season, Thompson also was a candidate for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year, the Wuerffel Trophy, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, and the NCAA Senior CLASS Award.

Thompson will play his final game as a Rocket when Toledo takes on Florida International University in the 2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Friday, Dec. 21.

Men’s basketball team moves up in Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll

Toledo moved up three spots in this week’s Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll released Monday evening and are now ranked No. 6.

The Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games last week with a 101-57 victory over Detroit Mercy and a 75-74 overtime win at 2018 NCAA Tournament participant Marshall.



Junior Willie Jackson and the Rockets are ranked No. 6 in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

Toledo’s 9-1 start to the 2018-19 season is its best since winning its first 12 games in a record-breaking 2013-14 campaign that ended with a 27-7 record. In addition, UT’s .900 winning percentage is tied for 11th best in the nation.



The Rockets’ highest ranking ever in the Mid-Major poll is No. 2 Dec. 30, 2013.



Toledo will begin a four-game homestand Saturday, Dec. 15, against Middle Tennessee. UT will then host Cornell Wednesday, Dec. 19, and Penn Saturday, Dec. 29, before opening Mid-American Conference play in Savage Arena vs. Ball State Friday, Jan. 4.

University employees can purchase tickets at half price, and UT students are admitted free with ID. Go to the Toledo Rockets website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena.

Soccer player named second team All-Midwest Region

Toledo women’s soccer senior captain Hannah Scafaria was named to the United Soccer Coaches’ NCAA Division-I Women’s All-Midwest Region second team.

Scafaria is the second Rocket under Head Coach TJ Buchholz to be named to an All-Midwest Region team, following Isa Echeverri, who was named to the third team in 2016 and 2017.

“Hannah had a record-setting season and it is great for her to receive such a prestigious honor from the United Soccer Coaches Association,” Buchholz said.

Scafaria joins 14 other athletes on the second team, and is one of 12 student-athletes out of the Mid-American Conference named to one of the United Soccer Coaches’ postseason teams this year.

This is Scafaria’s second postseason recognition of the year, having been named to the All-MAC first team in November.

Scafaria dominated UT’s offense this season, amassing 14 goals and one assist in 19 matches. Her efforts moved her to third-place all-time at UT for most goals scored in a single season behind Molly Cornwell (2007) and Corrie Hasenjager (2000), who both netted 15. The forward ended the year with the most goals in the conference, two more than Bowling Green’s Erica Hubert. At one point in the season, Scafaria also was ranked second in the nation for total goals and fifth in the country for goals per game.

Rockets vault into top 10 of Collegeinsider.com top 25 poll

Toledo moved into the Top-10 of the collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll released Monday evening after extending its winning streak to five games last week.

UT was ranked No. 16 in last week’s poll before rising seven places in the weekly ranking.

Toledo is ranked No. 9 in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

The Rockets’ home victories over North Alabama (80-59) Nov. 28 and Cleveland State (80-67) Dec. 1 improved UT’s win-loss mark to 7-1 this season.

The last time Toledo posted wins in seven of its first eight contests was when it registered a 12-0 start in the 2013-14 campaign. In addition, UT’s .875 winning percentage is tied for 15th best in the nation.

The Rockets’ highest ranking ever in the Mid-Major poll is No. 2 on Dec. 30, 2013.

Toledo will conclude its three-game homestand Wednesday, Dec. 5, against Detroit Mercy. UT will visit Marshall Saturday, Dec. 8, before playing its next four contests in Savage Arena.

Toledo led MAC in football attendance in 2018

The University of Toledo finished No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference in home football attendance for the second consecutive season with an average of 21,352 fans per game in 2018, well above the MAC average of 15,532.

The Rockets totaled 149,462 fans in seven home games. The season-high mark was 28,117 vs. Miami (Fla.) Sept. 15.

The Rockets averaged more than 21,000 fans per game in 2018; this included a capacity crowd of 28,117 vs. Miami (Fla.) Sept. 15.

Seating capacity for the Glass Bowl is 26,038. Toledo averaged 20,745 fans in 2017, also tops in the MAC.

The Rockets also sold 11,830 season tickets in 2018, a 13.8 percent increase from the 10,388 season tickets sold in 2017.

“We are very thankful for the Toledo community for another year of great support for our football program,” said Dave Nottke, deputy director of athletics. “In addition to experiencing another successful season on the field, our fans were able to enjoy all the fun and excitement of game day at the Glass Bowl. Our pre-game Stadium Drive Live concerts, in-game promotions, halftime entertainment and great traditions like the UT Marching Band make Rocket football one of the best college football atmospheres in the country.”

Toledo’s 2019 schedule will feature six home games, including a Sept. 28 matchup with Brigham Young University. The Rockets also will host Northern Illinois and Western Michigan among their four conference home games.

Teddy bear toss to be held at men’s basketball game Dec. 1

A teddy bear toss sponsored by WTOL will be held at halftime during The University of Toledo men’s basketball game vs. Cleveland State Saturday, Dec. 1. Tip-off time is set for 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.



Fans are encouraged to bring a new teddy bear or stuffed animal to the game to be tossed onto the court at halftime to benefit area children during the holiday season.

Prizes also will be awarded during the game to fans wearing the best holiday sweaters.



In addition, Santa Claus will be on the west concourse for children to visit. Kids also will have a chance to play at a bounce house in the Fetterman Center.

And the first 500 UT students will receive a Rocket holiday T-shirt.

University employees can purchase tickets at half price, and UT students are admitted free with ID. Go to the Toledo Rockets website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena.