No. 19 Toledo rallies for big 2nd half, beats UMass 51-35

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Phillip Ely didn’t let a poor start put an end to what could be a special season for No. 19 Toledo.

Ely recovered from a rough first half by throwing four of his five touchdown passes in the second, and the Rockets stormed back from an 18-point deficit for a 51-35 win over Massachusetts on Saturday.

Toledo entered the week with its highest ranking since climbing to No. 18 in 1997. But the Rocket fell behind 28-10 at halftime before running away from the Minutemen.

Ely said his team had a goal at half, and he nearly provided all the scoring himself.

”Going into halftime we knew what we could do in the second half was going to be all on us – on the offensive side,” he said. ”We had five touchdowns in mind, in our head. Five touchdowns would win the game.”

Ely was intercepted three times in the first half, but the Rockets (7-0, 4-0 MAC) scored in all seven possession after intermission before a kneel-down at the end. He finished 26 of 47 for 355 yards.

Terry Swanson ran 21 times for 117 yards and a score for the Rockets, who look to climb higher in the poll. Toledo’s highest was 12th, at the end of the 1970 season.

”It wasn’t his fault,” Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. ”A couple of receivers ran the wrong concept. You know, unfortunately, when you’re the quarterback, I think you take that blame for that. You saw what his moxie and poise looked like. He’s a real special player, one of the best players and one of the best leaders I’ve been around in a long time.”

Blake Frohnapfel completed 27 of 49 passes for 240 yards and four TDs for UMass (1-6, 0-3 MAC). The game was played at Gillette Stadium, home of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

”Tale of two halves,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. ”I thought the staff did a good job of getting our guys ready. We preached about takeaways and had some certainly in the first half.”

Ely was 12 of 19 for 198 yards in the second half.

”They made some good second-half adjustments, so we had to make in-game adjustments to their second-half adjustments and that kind of slowed us up,” UMass defensive back Randall Jette said.

The Rockets trailed by 13 points last week before posting a blowout win over Eastern Michigan.

On the first possession after intermission, Ely hit Cody Thompson to cap a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a 4-yard TD, slicing it to 28-17.

The senior then found Alonzo Russell in the back of the end zone on the next drive. It was originally ruled incomplete, but a replay review showed Russell’s right foot came down before he was pushed out of bounds.

On the third possession, Michael Roberts caught a 4-yarder from Ely to move the Rockets ahead.

Swanson’s 1-yard TD made it 38-28 early into the fourth. Ely hit Thompson for a 31-yard score on the next drive.

The Minutemen had converted the three interceptions into three TDs in the first half.

Trailing 3-0, UMass moved ahead when Frohnapfel connected with Rodney Mills for a 10-yard TD.

Late in the first quarter, Jette picked off Ely at the UMass 16 and returned it 48 yards. Frohnapfel hit Shakur Nesmith in the left corner of the end zone.

Toledo answered when Ely hit Corey Jones with a 20-yarder, cutting it to 14-10.

The Minutemen made it 21-10 lead when Frohnapfel hit Tajae Sharpe for a 35-yard TD.

UMass converted its third interception after Trey Dudley-Giles picked off a pass. On the ensuing play, Marquis Young broke through the line for a 50-yard TD run.

The Minutemen had the ball at the Toledo 1 with 6 seconds left in the half and gambled, but Frohnapfel was picked off in the end zone.

Toledo is off next week before a nationally televised night game at home against Northern Illinois on Nov. 3.

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