Washington, D.C. – The University of Toledo Rockets knocked off the Air Force Falcons, 42-41, in a thrilling finish to the 2011 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, benefiting the USO. The game was played Wednesday, December 28 at 4:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium and aired nationally on ESPN.
Air Force (7-6, 3-4 MWC) scored with 52 seconds remaining to pull within one of Toledo (9-4, 7-1 MAC) and elected to attempt a two-point conversion rather than kicking an extra point to tie the game at 42. However, the Rockets’ defense proved staunch, thwarting Falcons’ kicker Parker Herrington on the two-point attempt. The Falcons’ ensuing on-side kick was secured by Toledo, and the Rockets picked up a first down to ensure the victory.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the 105 Rockets who travelled to D.C.,” said Toledo Head Coach Matt Campbell, who had the interim tag removed from his title on December 12. “This team has been resilient all year. When we were 1-3, we thought we were the best 1-3 team in the country. The players turned it around. When you have a good team and a good program, it is because of the players. We have 21 seniors and a group of young men who are resilient and believe in themselves. There has been a lot of talk with Coach Beckman leaving, but we stayed focused on the opportunity at hand and won a bowl game. ”
An expected offensive spectacle saw 35 total first quarter points. The teams set the Military Bowl mark for first half points with 1:36 remaining in the first period. Three of the opening periods’ five touchdowns were scored within 53 seconds, beginning with a 22 yard run by Air Force’s Tim Jefferson with 2:29 to go, and ending with a 3 yard rush to the endzone by the Falcon’s Mike DeWitt with 1:36 left on the clock.
After a high-powered first half, both teams stepped up defensively as each forced a turnover in the third quarter and gave up only seven points apiece. The game remained tied at 35 until a Toledo 33 yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens to sophomore wide receiver Bernard Reedy gave the Rockets a 42-35 edge with 5:02 to play.
Reedy caught three touchdown passes for the Rockets on four receptions for 126 yards, earning game MVP honors. Paul Hornung Award candidate Eric Page guided the way for Toledo early, breaking off an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give Toledo a 21-7 lead. Page turned in 212 all purpose yards, while running back Adonis Thomas paced Toledo on the ground with 108 yards and a touchdown.
Toledo’s defense added a touchdown of its own, a 37 yard interception return in the third quarter by junior safety Jermaine Robinson.
Led by a dominant run game, the Falcons gained 248 yards on the ground. Senior wide receiver Jonathan Warzeka finished off his Falcon career with 95 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving.
“It has been a great six days in D.C.; a first class bowl game all the way with great potential for the long haul,” stated Air Force Head Coach Troy Calhoun. “It has been an honor to coach these guys. They are a little disappointed right now, but in life it will be splendid to see what they do down the road as officers and later in life as leaders.”
The Military Bowl is in its fourth year of existence and is the only bowl game located in the Nation’s Capital. It’s goals are to generate broad support for the USO, positively impact the regional economy, honor the U.S. military and solidify Washington, D.C. as a leading college football destination.