While Western Michigan didn’t cede control of the MAC West Thursday night, it did shave away a significant portion of its margin of error.
The Broncos entered play last night sporting a perfect 4-0 record in conference play. Exiting it, WMU now stands at 4-1 as Toledo used a 21-point third quarter to head back to Ohio with a 51-24 win. The Rockets, meanwhile, evened their overall record at 4-4 and their league mark at 2-2 in what was a relatively easy win despite holding just a 23-17 halftime lead on the road.
In what turned out to be the game-turning quarter, though, Eli Peters tossed a pair of touchdowns in the first two and a half minutes of the third to stretch the Rockets’ lead to 37-17; a three-yard Bryant Koback touchdown run three minutes later pushed the lead to 44-17.
While WMU, which saw its six-game winning streak snapped, closed the gap to 20 on a Jamauri Bogan one-yard touchdown run late in the third, that was as close as the homestanding Broncos would get the rest of the way.
Peters added another touchdown pass in the middle of the fourth quarter, his third of the game, to officially ice the game for the Rockets. All told, UT tossed five touchdown passes as starter Mitchell Guadagni, who injured his shoulder late in the second quarter, accounted for a pair before being replaced by Peters. Cody Thompson, incidentally, was on the receiving end of three of the five scoring tosses.
The Rockets ran for 268 yards, averaging 7.7 yards on its 35 carries. Koback’s 99 led all rushers on the night.
Western Michigan is now a half-game behind Northern Illinois (4-0), which is off this weekend, in the MAC West race. Provided both WMU (vs. 3-1 Ohio, 2-3 Ball State) and NIU (vs. 3-3 Akron, 2-2 Toledo, 3-1 Miami of Ohio) hold serve in conference play over the next three weeks, the Huskies-Broncos regular-season finale in Kalamazoo Nov. 20 will very likely determine which team will represent the West in the MAC championship game the following week.
Toledo, meanwhile, is now tied with Ball State (2-2) for third place in the MAC West. Both of those teams, though, would need both WMU and NIU to utterly implode in order to make it to Detroit’s Ford Field on the last day of November.