TOLEDO, Ohio (KOLO) – Junior quarterback Mitchell Guadagni threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more as Toledo won a shoot-out over Nevada, 63-44, at the Glass Bowl on Saturday.
Guadagni completed 15-of-24 passes for 211 yards and led the Rockets with 131 yards rushing on 15 carries. His 34-yard touchdown run with 7:26 left in the game sealed the victory and was the final score in a wild contest that saw the teams combine for 107 points and 1,042 yards in just under four hours of football.
Toledo never trailed in the contest, but until the fourth quarter, it was a back and forth affair, with Nevada matching the Rockets on the scoreboard three times in the first half. The Wolf Pack pulled to within four points in the third quarter, 42-38, but UT outscored Nevada 21-6 from there.
Senior wide receiver Cody Thompson caught three touchdown passes, including a 19-yard option play from junior wide receiver Desmond Phillips in the fourth quarter. Junior Diontae Johnson and senior Jon'Vea Johnson also caught touchdown passes.
Special teams were a huge factor in the victory. Diontae Johnson had a 98-yard kickoff return for a TD in second quarter, Phillips blocked a punt that was returned for a nine-yard TD by Reggie Gilliam, and sophomore punter Bailey Flint had a solid game, averaging 44.0 yards per punt and pinning Nevada inside the 20-yard line three times.
Toledo opened the scoring on its second possession on a 38-yard TD strike down the middle of the field from Guadagni to Jon'Vea Johnson. Nevada tied the score on a one-yard rush by quarterback Ty Gangi on a fourth-down play. Toledo made it 14-7 when Desmond Phillips blocked a punt that was recovered and returned nine yards into the end zone by Reggie Gilliam.
Both teams combined for 37 points in a wild second quarter. Nevada tied it up at 14-14 on the first play of the second quarter, a 22-yard toss from Gangi to Elijah Cooks. However, on the ensuing kickoff Toledo regained the lead when Diontae Johnson followed a blocker up the middle for a 98-yard touchdown. The Wolf Pack tied it up once again on a 31-yard run by Toa Taua. Cody Thompson's seven-yard TD grab gave Toledo a 28-21 edge. The Rockets had a chance to extend the lead but Jameson Vest's 35-yard attempt went wide right. But after a stop by the defense and a short Nevada punt, Toledo took advantage of a short field to tack another touchdown on the board. Guadagni scrambled on a third-and-10 play to go 27 yards for the score. Nevada finished out the scoring with a 50-yard field goal by Ramiz Ahmed on the half's final play, trimming Toledo's lead to 35-24 at the break.
The scoring parade continued as Nevada wasted no time getting its offense in gear, moving 75 yards in just three plays in its opening drive to cut the lead to 35-31. Kelton Moore had back-to-back rushes for 32 yards and 23 yards, the second taking him into the end zone. The Rockets answered the call with a 26-yard pass to Diontae Johnson from Guadagni to extend the lead to 42-31. But on the very next play from scrimmage, Taua bolted up the middle for 66 yards to pull the Wolf Pack to within four points, 42-38. Toledo countered with a 20-yard TD completion from Guadagni to Thompson to make the score 49-38 with 1:27 left in the quarter.
Toledo's defense stopped Nevada on its first possession of the quarter, forcing the Wolf Pack to attempt a 52-yard field goal that fell short. The Rockets then marched downfield with a five-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by an option pass from junior wide receiver Desmond Phillips to Thompson, his third TD reception of the day, to up the edge to 56-38 with 11:49 to play. Nevada answered with a two-yard TD run by Quinton Conaway. The two-point attempt failed, making the score 56-44 with 8:04 left. The Wolf Pack's attempt at an onside kick was recovered by UT. A few seconds later, Gudagni ran it in from 34 yards to up the margin to 63-44. Senior linebacker Richard Olekanma picked off Gangi on Nevada's next possession, effectively putting the game out of reach.