Toledo claims 10-win season with 32-17 Boca Raton Bowl victory

Toledo’s season might not have been all that it hoped it would be, but Tuesday’s 32-17 win against Temple in the Boca Raton Bowl was a nice way to end it.

The Rocket defeated the No. 24 Owls to claim their first 10-win season since 2001 and first back-to-back bowl wins since 1970-71. It also provided a glimmer of hope for a team that recently lost coach Matt Campbell and promoted offensive coordinator Jason Candle to lead the team.

Candle is now 1-0 with a win against a ranked foe under his belt.

But it didn’t come easy.

The two teams struggled to find offense early on a rain-soaked field at Howard Schnellenberger Stadium. Early on, it looked like Temple was going to have the advantage with its running game led by Jahad Thomas. But Thomas suffered a leg injury during the second quarter and did not return, leaving quarterback P.J. Walker as the Owls' best offensive weapon and he didn’t have his best game.

The Owls mustered just 67 yards of total offense in the first half and a field goal to show for their efforts. Walker finished the game completing 23 of 42 passes for 236 yards and an interception. He also led all rushers with 10 carries for 30 yards.

Similarly, Toledo’s offense had trouble finding its way against Temple’s defense. But early in the second quarter, the defense forced a Thomas fumble that went out of the back of the end zone for a safety and seemingly kickstarted the entire team. The Rockets, led by quarterback Phillip Ely, scored 10 more points in the quarter and had what appeared to be an insurmountable 12-3 lead.

Temple attempted to crawl back into the game in the third quarter, but trip to the red zone resulted in field goals instead of touchdowns. In the fourth quarter, Ely frond Cody Thompson for an 80-yard touchdown pass down the seam, and then the Toledo running game, which had been largely dormant most of the first half, came alive. Kareem Hunt rushed for two scores, including one with 2:29 remaining following a controversial onside kick recovery by the Rockets that sealed the game.

The contest was a little bittersweet for Ely, a fifth-year senior, who had his appeal for a sixth season of eligibility denied by the NCAA, but he had one of his better games of the season completing 20 of 28 passes for 285 yards and two scores.

For Temple. the loss denied it a school record 11 wins, but it still had its first 10-win season since winning 10 in 1979.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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