Photo courtesy of Toledo Athletics
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWLS PAGE
(Sports Network) - Bernard Reedy and the potent Toledo offense put Matt Campbell in position to win his first game as head coach, but it was a call made from the other team's sideline that sealed the deal.
Reedy's third touchdown catch gave Toledo the lead with five minutes left, and the Rockets escaped to win the Military Bowl on Wednesday when Air Force faked an extra point at the other end and fumbled on the two-point conversion.
Toledo won the thrill-a-minute game 42-41 at RFK Stadium, scoring at least 40 points in a school-record sixth straight game.
After Reedy spun off a tackler and split two more defenders for a 33-yard touchdown to make it 42-35, Air Force scored with 52 seconds left when Tim Jefferson found Zack Kauth behind the defense on 4th-and-3 for a 33-yard score.
But rather than play for a tie game, Air Force and head coach Troy Calhoun went for the win.
Holder David Baska kept the ball on the fake, but lost it as he crossed the line on the left side. Trailing him, kicker Parker Herrington chased after the ball, only to knock it through the left side of the end zone.
The Rockets (9-4), who were co-champions of the Mid-American Conference's West Division, won eight of their last nine games after starting the season 1-3.
The former offensive coordinator Campbell was promoted to head coach after Tim Beckman resigned December 9 to accept the head coaching position at Illinois.
He coached from the booth, watching as Terrance Owens passed for 210 yards and three touchdowns -- all to Reedy, who caught four balls for 126 yards. Adonis Thomas rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown in the win, while Eric Page scored on a kick return and Jermaine Robinson took an interception back for a TD.
Jefferson passed for 159 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a run for Air Force (7-6), which rallied from two 14-point deficits in the first half to tie the game at the break.
Jonathan Warzeka rushed for 85 yards and caught a touchdown pass, while Mike DeWitt scored twice on the ground.
Both offenses clicked, and Toledo took a 21-14 lead in the first quarter after scoring three touchdowns in a span of just three plays.
First, Owens found Reedy wide-open behind the defense for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to cap a 53-yard drive. Then, Cody Getz fumbled on the ensuing kickoff after running into his own teammate and Thomas rushed 41 yards on the next play to give Toledo a 14-0 lead.
Air Force came back with a 64-yard drive, capped by Jefferson's 22-yard touchdown run into the right side of the end zone on a draw play.
But Page returned the kickoff 87 yards up the middle of the field for a 21-7 lead, ending the three-touchdown burst. A first-team All-MAC selection at wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner, Page was untouched on the play.
Air Force didn't let the game slip away, rallying to tie it before halftime.
The Falcons, spurred up by Warzeka's 60-yard run, pulled within 21-14 on DeWitt's three-yard TD run and tied the game early in the second quarter on Asher Clark's one-yard score to cap a 79-yard drive.
Reedy put Toledo back on top with his second touchdown of the game, a 49-yard catch-and-run that made it 28-21.
But he fumbled on Toledo's next possession after the Rockets had stopped Air Force on fourth down, and Owens connected with Warzeka on a 4th-and-3 pass for a 37-yard touchdown that knotted the game at 28-28 with 2:07 left in the half.
Robinson broke the tie with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown six minutes into the third quarter. A pass over the middle was deflected to him, and Robinson cut left across the field and into the end zone.
But DeWitt got his second touchdown of the game for Air Force on the next possession, a two-yard run to cap a 50-yard drive and tie the game again.
Falcons linebacker Austin Niklas made a shoe-string interception eight plays into the ensuing Toledo drive, reaching down to pluck the ball before it hit the ground, but Air Force punted.