TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Rockets soared in their 2018 opener, handing VMI a 66-3 setback before 24,136 spectators Saturday night at the Glass Bowl.
Toledo, the defending MAC champions, piled up over 600 yards of total offense, racing out to a 42-3 halftime lead and never looking back.
Things went awry for the Keydets from the beginning. VMI’s first two drives mustered negative yardage, and with 10:38 to play in the first quarter, Toledo’s Cody Thompson blocked a punt and returned it three yards for the first score of the game. By the time the first half ended, the Rockets had found the end zone five more times to race out to the huge halftime lead.
VMI’s only threat came midway through the second period. Thanks to a 38-yard completion from sophomore quarterback Reece Udinski to sophomore Kris Thornton, VMI marched all the way to the Toledo 10-yard line. But the drive stalled there, and the Keydets had to settle for junior Reed King’s 28-yard field goal that cut the Toledo lead to 28-3 with 8:42 to play before intermission.
Udinski, who closed last season with a 200-yard passing performance in the 2017 finale, opened 2018 by completing 25 of 42 passes for 151 yards. Udinski completed passes to 11 different receivers, including Thornton, who hauled in eight of those throws for 57 yards.
However, a pair of interceptions proved costly and Toledo registered four sacks. The Keydets also lost a fumble to run their turnover total for the game to three, and VMI managed only 61 yards rushing on 31 attempts.
Toledo, which tacked on three more touchdowns in the third quarter to really put the game out of reach, rushed for 213 yards and added 390 more through the air. Bryant Koback ran for 67 yards on nine carries and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Rockets, while Shakif Seymour chipped in with two rushing TDs of his own.
Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni threw only 16 passes in the game, but he completed 11 of them for 265 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers.
The Keydets hit the road again next Saturday when they open Southern Conference play against Wofford. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
VMI HEAD COACH SCOTT WACHENHEIM -
"Toledo is an excellent football team and defending MAC champion and they came out and played like that tonight. You have to give them a lot of credit. They are very talented at the wide receiver position and big up front on both sides of the ball. Their secondary is extremely talented as well and their quarterback came in and played well. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes early and when you do that against a championship caliber team, they take advantage of it. We played in a hole from there on out. I'm proud of the way the kids fought back. The drive off the one yard line was excellent and the defense at the end kept playing hard. There will be at lot of things we can watch on tape and learn from and correct and there will be some things on tape that we can be encouraged about. We saw a lot of players get their first taste of college football and getting that first experience on the road will help us a lot when we go play Wofford next week."