TOLEDO, Ohio — Playing for the first time in nearly two years, the Norfolk State football team suffered a 49-10 loss to Toledo on Saturday night in the season-opener for both teams.
The game, the first for the Spartans (0-1) in 651 days and the first for new head coach Dawson Odums, swung on two blocked punts which the Rockets (1-0) returned for touchdowns in the first half.
Toledo took its first possession and drove 52 yards for a score, a 1-yard run by Bryant Koback. After NSU's next possession stalled, DeMeer Blankumsee blocked a Ryan Richter punt and Maxen Clark returned it 25 yards for a score and a 14-0 Rockets' lead.
NSU wasted little time cutting its deficit in half. Justin Smith hauled in a 47-yard TD bomb in traffics from Juwan Carter to cap a 75-yard drive with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
But the Rockets' special teams struck again. Following NSU's next drive, Clark blocked a Richter punt and Justin Clark returned it 14 yards for another Toledo TD, giving the hosts a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Dequan Finn scored on a 24-yard run just before the half, and Koback scored his second TD of the day on a 6-yard run on the first drive of the third quarter as the Rockets extended their lead to 35-7.
Devin Maddox scored on an 84-yard reception and Jacquez Stewart ran for a 15-yard TD for the Rockets later in the half. NSU tacked on a 32-yard field goal by Josh Nardone in the fourth quarter to cap the Spartans' scoring.
Toledo outgained NSU 441-272. Carter passed for 125 yards for the Spartans, and Kevin Johnson ran for 56 yards on four carries.
The NSU defense was led by 11 tackles by Tyler Long. Amadeu Vital posted 2.5 tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks.
Finn rushed for 82 yards and Carter Bradley passed for 183 for the Rockets.
The Spartans play their second FBS opponent in a row next Saturday when they meet Wake Forest at noon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.