College Football

Toledo holds of Temple for Marmot Boca Raton Bowl victory

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Junior running back Kareem Hunt scored twice in the fourth quarter and Toledo broke open a soggy defensive struggle to defeat Temple, 32-17, Tuesday, Dec. 22, at the second annual Marmot Boca Raton Bowl in FAU Stadium.

Hunt scored on runs of 1 and 41 yards to highlight a 20-point fourth-quarter explosion and the Rockets completed a 10-win season (10-2) for just the seventh time in school history and first time since 2001.

It was also the debut of new head coach Jason Candle, who called the game from the press box, his natural position as the team’s offensive coordinator for the past four seasons.

Toledo senior quarterback Phillip Ely returned to his native Florida for a finale to remember. The transfer from Alabama threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, earning the game’s Offensive MVP award. Ely completed 20-of-28 passes with no interceptions.

Ely put the Rockets ahead to stay with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Corey Jones, completing a 5-play, 55-yard drive early in the second quarter after the Rockets’ defense recorded a safety. The first of three successful PAT kicks from Jameson Vest put Toledo in front, 9-3.

Vest added a 38-yard field goal on the last play of the first half and the Rockets led 12-3 at the break.

Temple kicker Austin Jones booted field goals of 29, 25 and 35 yards to pull Temple to within striking range. The Owls trailed just 12-9 entering the wild fourth quarter.

Toledo extended the lead to 25-9 on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Ely to sophomore wide receiver Cody Thompson, and Hunt’s first of two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Thompson led all receivers with a career-high 119 yards on four catches.

But Temple (10-4) went 68 yards in 11 plays, and scored its only touchdown of the game on a 2-yard plunge by Kip Patton. The Owls added a two-point conversion pass from P.J. Walker to Robby Anderson and with 2:50 remaining in the game, cut the Rockets’ lead to 25-17. Walker threw for 236 yards, completing 23-of 42 passes with one interception.

It appeared as though the Owls recovered the ensuing on-sides kick. But after unraveling a huge pile up near midfield, it was determined that Toledo had come up with the ball. Two plays later, Hunt put the game out of reach with his second touchdown of the quarter.

Hunt led Toledo on the ground with 82 yards rushing on 16 carries while teammate Alonzo Russell set a school record by catching a pass in his 50th consecutive game. Russell caught three passes for 32 yards.

Toledo sophomore linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley was named the game’s Defensive MVP. He forced a second-quarter fumble that resulted in a safety and recorded six tackles, including one for a loss.

The Rockets won all six games away from home this season, the first perfect road season for Toledo since 1971.

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