After taking my first loss in NCAA Football 12 for STAT BOX STORIES in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl yesterday, I was anxious to get back in the game for today’s 2011 Military Bowl match-up between the Toledo Rockets and the Air Force Falcons. Toledo finished the season 8-4—with a 7-1 record in the MAC—while Air Force went 7-5 but only managed a 3-4 record in the Mountain West Conference. The Falcons did achieve service academy victory by winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the second year in a row, however.
In NCAA Football 12, Toledo is at a ratings disadvantage compared to Air Force, so I decided to take control of the Rockets from Ohio in an attempt to score the underdog victory. Having never played as the Rockets, I knew that it would be a difficult task, but I was ready to shed the disappointment of yesterday’s loss.
The game got off to an auspicious start for me, as Air Force received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out to begin the game. After fielding the punt, the very first offensive play from scrimmage for Toledo was a 66 yard run for a touchdown off of a broken tackle. With an early 7-0 lead, I felt good just over a minute and a half into the game.
Unfortunately, Air Force’s next drive was much more successful. Less than two minutes later, their quarterback scrambled into the end zone from 7 yards out to tie the game at 7-all. Defense continued to be troublesome for each side, however, as Toledo strung together a series of runs before the spell halfback ripped off a 41-yard touchdown rush to re-take the lead for Toledo.
On Air Force’s next possession, they got to the 50-yard-line and faced a 4th-and-1 conversion opportunity. The Falcons made the decision to gain the yard and on an option play, they scored a 50-yard touchdown on a pitch to the halfback to tie the game at 14-14 with just under a minute remaining in the first quarter.
Toledo’s next drive began to gain steam until a dropped pass on third down forced the Rockets to punt the ball back to Air Force. On the first play after the punt, Air Force broke a number of tackles on an 83-yard touchdown run to take the Falcons’ first lead of the game at 21-14.
With the ball back and facing a deficit for the first time, Toledo drove for three-and-a-half minutes but a sack on 3rd-and-Goal forced the Rockets to settle for a red zone field goal. Air Force’s next possession was a quick three-and-out and a punt, and Toledo had the ball back with the opportunity to regain momentum. After converting on 4th Down in Air Force territory, however, the Rockets were held to another field goal with 19 seconds remaining in the first half. After two quarters of play, the “host” Falcons led 21-20.
Toledo received the opening kickoff of the third quarter and began a new drive down the field. After a holding penalty negated a 25-yard touchdown run by the Rockets, the very next play was a 37-yard touchdown run for Toledo to re-take the lead. Leading 26-21, I decided to attempt a 2-point conversion play and successfully converted with a quarterback scramble into the end zone. Air Force was held to another three-and-out, and with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter Toledo scored a 28-yard touchdown pass to go up 35-21.
Air Force’s next possession managed to go beyond a three-and-out, but it still ended in a punt and Toledo was back in business to begin the fourth quarter. The Rockets had to settle for a 33-yard field goal, but it still extended the lead to 17 points with just over half of the fourth quarter remaining.
The Falcons upped their tempo for their next offensive drive, going with no-huddle and relying on multiple scrambles by their quarterback. With goal to go later in the drive, a 5-yard rush by the quarterback capped the drive with a touchdown to cut the lead to 10 points with just over three minutes remaining.
With time running out, Air Force attempted an onside kick but was unable to recover the ball. As a result, Toledo was able to take possession and work at running down the clock. With 19 seconds remaining in the game, a 1-yard touchdown run by the spell halfback put the Rockets up 45-28 and finished up the scoring for the game.
For a game between a team with Rockets as a mascot and a team representing the United States Air Force, the offenses were most successful when running the ball on the ground. Toledo rushed 48 times for 327 yards, while Air Force used their option offense to run the ball 27 times for a total of 242 yards. Each team also was able to score four times on the ground. The two quarterbacks were able to complete a high percentage of passes, but the yardage paled by comparison to the yards gained by the halfbacks. Perhaps the most impressive part of the game, however, was that both teams kept control of the ball and avoided any turnovers; indeed, this may be the first game I’ve ever played in any game of NCAA Football where neither team threw an interception or lost a fumble. This was also the game featuring the most penalty yardage accrued by a CPU team that I’ve played against, as Air Force was flagged 9 times for 96 yards.
The clear Player of the Game was Toledo’s HB #24, who rushed the ball 40 times for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Air Force’s HB #17 managed to have a big day as well, rushing 16 times for 171 yards and a touchdown of his own. With so much success on the ground, the receivers took a backseat for each offense, though Air Force’s WR #80 managed to catch five passes for 80 yards to lead all receivers for the game. And with such high yardage totals, defense had a bit of an off night; that said, Air Force’s MLB #32 managed an incredible 19 total tackles for the game including one quarterback sack; not that it was enough to help the Falcons win the game.
Though the game was a bit out of the ordinary in terms of how many rushing plays were called—not that anyone could fault either side for continuing to call plays which were having so much success on the field for this Bowl Game match-up—it felt good to put together a solid effort throughout the course of the game and end up getting myself back on the winning track. The 262 yards rushed by Toledo’s HB #24 was also my second-highest total ever in NCAA Football 12, 10 yards shy of the rushing total I had with Michigan earlier this year in the STAT BOX STORIES entry for their game against Ohio State.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for more guest contributions in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL as well as the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl between Florida State and Notre Dame where I’ll try to win as the Fighting Irish in the hostile confines of Orlando.