TOLEDO, Ohio – Toledo's much maligned defense finally did its part.
The Rockets big-play offense has carried the Rockets all season, but the Toledo defense out did the offense even when it came to getting in the end zone, leading the Rockets to a 29-23 victory over No. 21 Cincinnati Saturday night.
The Rockets jumped out 10-0 when Cincinnati's Munchie Legaux floated a pass into the chest of Jermaine Robinson, who ran down the sideline midway into the first quarter for a 75-yard TD. It was Robinson's second interception return for a score this season and the fourth of his career.
"We worked on disguising coverages all week and we knew we could confuse him," Robinson said.
Toledo (6-1) has won its last six games by averaging more than 36 points per game after an opening loss at Arizona.
But it was the Rockets defense and special teams that changed the game.
"If you would have told me that our defense would hold the explosive Toledo offense scoreless in terms of touchdowns, I would feel pretty confident that we would win the game," said Cincinnati coach Butch Jones.
Toledo's defense was a sore point a year ago and a concern this season too, especially after allowing 624 yards and a lot of big plays a week ago against Eastern Michigan.
But they kept the multitalented Legaux and his high-scoring offense in check. The Bearcats had been averaging 37 points per game and were tops in the Big East in yards and points
Legaux had 228 yards passing and 66 yards on the ground, but never seemed to get on track.
Neither did Cincinnati's leading rusher, George Winn, who finished with 86 yards on 16 carries.
"Hopefully now everyone now understands that our defense has made great progress since last year," said Matt Campbell, in his first full season as head coach.
Cincinnati didn't score until the second quarter and its only lead came late in the third quarter. Even that lasted just a few seconds.
Bernard Reedy was barely touched as he took a kickoff and scampered up the field 91-yards to put the Rockets back in front 26-20.
It was Reedy's third TD on special teams in three weeks. He had an 89-yard kickoff return in a 52-47 victory over Eastern Michigan last Saturday and 66-yard punt return in a 50-35 win over Central Michigan on Oct. 6.
The Rockets got five field goals from Jeremiah Detmer, the last one coming with 42 seconds left after the Rockets ate up seven minutes with a pivotal drive. The Rockets have won six straight an after opening loss at Arizona.
Toledo's David Fluellen rushed for 162 yards on 24 carries. He shouldered the load on the Rockets' decisive drive that ate up seven minutes in the fourth quarter.
He carried eight times on the final drive in what was his fourth straight game with over 100 yards.
The Bearcats had one last chance, Legaux's second interception of the game ended any hope for the Bearcats and set off a wild celebration at Toledo's Glass Bowl where the Rockets have beaten Colorado, Pittsburgh and Kansas in recent years and are 4-1 against Top 25 teams.
The Bearcats still lead the all-time series with Toledo 4-3, but the Rockets have won the last three. Toledo last beat Cincinnati in the 2001 Motor City Bowl.