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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.

Rocket named MAC Football Special Teams Player of the Year

Eight Rockets earned 10 All-Mid-American Conference selections, including three first-team nods, and junior wide receiver Diontae Johnson also was named the Special Teams Player of the Year.

For the second straight season, Johnson earned all-conference honors and did so at three different positions: wide receiver (first-team), punt returner (first-team) and kickoff returner (second-team).

Senior wide receiver Cody Thompson also was named a first-team selection.

Joining the two receivers as All-MAC honorees were offensive lineman Bryce Harris (second team), tight end Reggie Gilliam (second team), wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson (third team), kicker Jameson Vest (third team), defensive end Tuzar Skipper (third team) and safety Josh Teachey (third team).

Diontae Johnson has become arguably the most dangerous return man in the league. He leads the MAC with an average punt return of 18.3 yards, and he is second in kickoff return average at 25.8 yards per attempt. He is the only player in the conference to return a punt and kickoff for a touchdown this season. As a receiver, he is tied for the team lead with 43 receptions, leads UT with 663 receiving yards, and has seven touchdown catches.

For his career, Diontae Johnson has averaged 23.4 yards per kickoff return, which would put him third all-time in UT history, and he is just the second Rocket ever to have at least two punt return TDs and two kickoff return TDs (Lance Moore, 2001-2004). He is the fourth player in program history to be named the top special teams player in the MAC, joining Jeremiah Detmer (2013), Eric Page (2010) and Jason Robbins (2005).

Joining Diontae Johnson on the MAC’s first team is Thompson, who also was a first-team selection in 2016, is tied for the team lead with 43 receptions totaling 592 yards, and leads the Rockets with 10 touchdown catches. He has spent this season climbing in the Toledo record book, where he ranks atop the career touchdown reception list with 30. Thompson is second all-time with 3,257 receiving yards and second in yards per reception (18.5). Off the field, he earned Academic All-District honors for the second straight season.

Harris was named a second-team recipient, his first All-MAC honor. The Rockets’ starting center, Harris has helped pave the way for an offense that ranks second in the MAC in scoring (41.1), total offense (448.5) and rushing (223.6).

Gilliam joined Harris on the second team, and it is also the first all-conference honor of his career. Gilliam has been Toledo’s starting tight end for much of the season and ranks third on the team with three touchdown receptions. He has been an absolute force on special teams, where he leads the country in blocked kicks (four).

Jon’Vea Johnson was one of four Rockets to earn third-team All-MAC distinctions. He ranks second on the team with 611 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, and third with 29 receptions. He leads Toledo in average yards per catch (21.1), a figure that ranks fifth in the country. This is his second All-MAC award; he was a second-team honoree in 2016.

Vest is an All-MAC recipient for the second straight season, landing on the third team. He leads the MAC in scoring (8.6 points per game) and has cemented himself in Toledo football lore, breaking the school records for career field goals made (71) and extra points made (227). He is 14 for 19 on field goals this season, including 4 of 5 from 40 yards or longer.

Skipper was one of two UT defensive players to be placed on the All-MAC squad. A first-time honoree, Skipper has tallied 52 tackles this season and leads Toledo with 8.5 sacks, which rank third in the MAC. His 10.5 tackles for loss rank second on the team, and he leads the Rockets with four QB hurries and two fumble recoveries.

Teachey rounds out Toledo’s All-MAC selections with his first career all-conference accolade. He is fourth on the team with 54 tackles and is among the tops in the conference with 11 pass breakups. He leads the Rockets’ defensive backs with four tackles for loss.

Rockets accept invitation to play in Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

The University of Toledo has accepted an invitation to play Florida International University of Conference USA in the 2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl at Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau.

The game will be played Friday, Dec. 21, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time and will be televised on ESPN.

“We are very excited to accept an invitation to play in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl,” said UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “We are looking forward to working with the staff at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl as we participate in their outstanding bowl.

“This will be our first trip to the Bahamas, and we are looking forward to a terrific bowl experience against a very fine FIU team,” he said. “I also want to congratulate Head Coach Jason Candle, his staff and our entire Rocket football team for earning their eighth bowl invitation in the last nine years.”

Candle said the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will be a well-earned reward for his team.

“The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will provide our team with an outstanding bowl experience, as well as the opportunity to play against a very tough FIU team,” Candle said. “We are looking forward to a great matchup. Playing in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl is an excellent reward for our players, coaches, fans, and everyone who has played a part in the success of our program.”

The Rockets (7-5, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) finished tied for second place in the West Division of the MAC. Toledo has a streak of nine consecutive winning seasons and will be attending its eight bowl in the past nine years. UT is 11-6 all-time in bowl games.

FIU (8-4, 6-2 Conference USA) finished tied for second place in the East Division of the conference. The Golden Panthers lead the all-time series over Toledo, 2-1, including a 34-32 win in the 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the most recent meeting between the two programs.

Rockets fans may purchase tickets for the game form the UT Athletic Ticket Office. Information on placing orders for tickets will be announced later this week.

Fans wishing to purchase rooms at the host resort for the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, the Atlantis Bahamas, can do so at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl website.