Toledo ready to look beyond Potato Bowl blowout

For nearly 53 minutes Saturday night, Toledo was in position to
rally and knock off Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Then Aggies running back Kerwynn Williams took over, scoring
three touchdowns and rushing for 186 yards in the final 7 1/2
minutes to turn a tight game into a rout.

For Bernard Reedy, the fourth-quarter letdown that resulted in a
41-15 loss left a bitter taste. But he also considers it a valuable
lesson he and his teammates should use to build on for next
year.

”We couldn’t get it going tonight,” said Reedy, the lone
bright spot for a lackluster Toledo offense. ”We just have to
piggy-back off that next year and we have to get better. We’re
really close to where we want to be. It was a great season and we
did some really great things.”

They sure did.

The Rockets finished 9-4, at one point won eight straight games
and Saturday played in their third consecutive bowl game. Toledo
also knocked off then-No 18 Cincinnati and had nine players voted
to all-Mid-American Conference teams.

Still, the Rockets couldn’t capitalize on some critical
opportunities against an Aggies defense that ranks among the best
in the nation. On the other side of the ball, the Toledo defense,
playing without senior linebacker Dan Molls, the unit’s best
tackler and emotional leader, collapsed late against Williams and a
Utah State offense that scored 28 points in the fourth quarter.

Toledo was able to move the ball throughout the game and made
five trips inside the red zone. But penalties and miscues forced
the Rockets to settle for Jeremiah Detmer’s three field goals.
Detmer hit two from 37 yards and another from 29, ending the season
with a streak of 17 straight field goals

The Rockets’ only touchdown came when Reedy returned a
fourth-quarter kickoff 87 yards. Reedy was the only big producer on
a Toledo offense held to 315 total yards. He added 51 yards on the
ground, taking the load of the carries after running back David
Fluellen left with an ankle injury, and caught six passes for 62
yards.

Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin, who started in place of the
injured Terrence Owens, was 12 of 21 passing for 132 yards. Dantin
threw an interception in the third quarter to end a promising
scoring drive and was replaced by Owens in the fourth quarter.
Owens moved the Rockets on his first possession, but another
red-zone opportunity was squelched when the Aggies snuffed Owens
for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play from the 9.

Dantin returned later in the fourth quarter and threw a second
pick to set up another touchdown run by Williams, who led the
Aggies with 235 rushing yards and was voted MVP.

Molls, who led the nation with 166 tackles on the season,
sustained a concussion on the opening kickoff and didn’t return.
Fluellen, who rushed for 1,460 yards on the year, went down in the
first quarter after re-injuring an ankle.

”Injuries happen … you have to have the ability to adapt and
you have to have the ability to move on,” coach Matt Campbell
said. ”We were still in the game in the fourth quarter. I’m really
proud of our football team from that standpoint.”

The Rockets finished with 315 total yards on offense and
converted only 6 of 17 third down attempts.