Rockets Blast Past Eagles, 41-17 Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Saturday, September 13 2008
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Toledo RB DaJuane Collins rushed for 168 yards / Photo: Paul Nelson
YPSILANTI, MI - Playing through an intermittent driving rain that frequently presented more resistance than Eastern Michigan's defense, the Toledo Rockets opened MAC play with a convincing 41-17 victory Saturday over the Eagles.

Toledo tailback DaJaune Collins led the Rockets' offensive attack with a career-high 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns while quarterback Aaron Opelt was an efficient 8-18 passing for 114 yards and three touchdowns.
"This was a very important win, a very important conference win" noted Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz afterward. "It's always tough to win on the road."
It also helps to have a gracious host as the Rockets were the beneficiaries of five Eastern Michigan turnovers.
The Rockets took an early 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game, going 72 yards in only three plays as Collins busted one of his several big runs on the day on the Rockets' first play, gaining fourteen yards. That was followed by a 39-yard flea-flicker with quarterback Aaron Opelt connecting with Nick Moore for a gain to the EMU 19-yard line with Collins putting the finishing touches on the drive with the first of his two touchdowns on the next play.
"With the rain we knew we were going to have to run the ball to be successful," said Collins. "I thought we came out and did a good job."
The weather played havoc with both teams' offensive plans in the first quarter as the teams exchanged turnovers on three consecutive possessions.
"I was thinking we should all go home and go duck hunting," stated Amstutz. "But that happens in those kind of conditions."
But the most costly turnover came with Eastern Michigan driving and on the Toledo 33-yard line when Eagles quarterback Kyle McMahon fumbled the snap which was pounced upon and batted around by several players until Toledo defensive end Derrick Summers came up with the ball and appeared to have a touchdown until he fell at the Eastern Michigan one-yard line.
"I guess he tripped on the one," said Toledo linebacker Archie Donald, who had a career-high two interceptions in the contest. "But that was a really big play."
The Rockets needed just two plays to make it 14-0 after Collins scored his second touchdown of the day.
The first quarter ended with the Rockets up 14-0 after only possessing the ball for 3:37 in the opening quarter.
The Eagles finally got on the board with six minutes left in the half after defensive lineman Brad Ohrman recovered a fumble by Toledo running back Morgan Williams at the Eagles' 41-yard line that led to a 47 yard nine-play EMU scoring drive, culminating in Terrence Blevins' one-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-7 contest. EMU tailback Dwayne Priest rushed for 45 yards in the drive and finished the day with a career-high 80 yards rushing on thirteen carries, one of the few Eagles' highlights of the day.
The Eagles appeared to have a chance to add more points before the end of the half when EMU had the ball fourth-and-one at the Toledo 40-yard line and one timeout remaining, however the Eagles elected to let the clock run down to three seconds and attempt a Hail Mary pass.
"We had played pretty poorly over the first twenty minutes and to be able to cut it to 14-7 was probably not representative of how the first half went," Eastern Michigan head coach Jeff Genyk stated in explaining his team's decision to let the clock run down. "We had tried to convert on a third-and-two and failed and wanted to take a shot at a Hail Mary. I felt that based on our performance in the first half, going in 14-7 at the half was fine."
The second half however was all Toledo as the Rockets scored 27 unanswered points with the Eagles' secondary repeatedly burned and their defensive line unable to contain, or tackle, Rockets' tailback DaJuane Collins.
"Collins ran very well," stated Genyk, "Let's give credit to him but I was really disappointed in our tackling. You have to execute the fundamentals if you are going to beat at team like Toledo."
The Rockets scored on each of their four possessions in the third quarter with Opelt passing for touchdowns on three straight possessions, connecting first with Robin Bailey for a 14-yard touchdown and then hitting Stephen Williams for two scores before Morgan Williams put the finishing touches on the Rockets' third-quarter assault with a 9-yard run that turned a close game into a 41-7 route by the end of the third quarter.
While the rain seemed to disrupt the Eagles, the Rockets took advantage of the Eagles' miscues en route to an easy win.
"I know I can throw the ball in the rain," said Opelt. "We took some shots right away and it showed the weather didn't affect our game plan."
Opelt and the Rockets indeed showed the weather was not a factor, burning Eastern Michigan's defensive secondary for several big gains.
"Our defensive backs have to have more confidence to turn around and look for the ball, especially on a day when you have a wet ball and passes are going to get underthrown," said a frustrated Genyk after the game.
"We felt we were in position (on several big completions by Toledo) but didn't finish," noted EMU defensive back Jacob Wyatt who was victimized by Toledo's receivers on several plays.
The Eagles added ten points in the fourth quarter after the game was decided.
Eastern Michigan quarterback Andy Schmitt was limited throughout the game with backup Kyle McMahon, who had two fumbles and one interception, playing the majority of the contest.
Schmitt was hurt Thursday in practice and suffered what one source close to the team described as an injury to his left shoulder. His availability for the Eagles' next game at Maryland will be further evaluated throughout the week.
With Schmitt sidelined, McMahon had to be ready to go on relatively short notice but was not prepared to attribute his team's struggles to the change in signal callers.
"All through the week I am always thinking I have to be ready," said McMahon. "If your number is called, you have to be ready to go."

"We definitely had our chances. I could have made more plays, the running backs could have made more plays, the wide receivers could have made more plays. We all could have made things happenWe really didn't come out and do that."
The Eagles came into the game averaging a MAC-leading 270 yards rushing but were held to 132 yards on the ground by a Rockets defense that had yielded 452 yards of offense in its 41-16 opening night loss to Arizona.
But Toledo linebacker Archie Donald believes that the Rockets have turned the corner. "This win let us know we're looking at a good year this season," said Donald. "Our defense is fast this year and we play so hard."
There are few on the Eagles' sideline that would doubt that statement.
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