February 2, 2023

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2022 Bowl Games Schedule, College Playoff Scores, Live Updates: Notre Dame vs. South Carolina, UCLA vs. Pitt

Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo 21, Liberty 19

Jason Kandel won his first game as Toledo’s coach in the Boca Raton Bowl in 2017, knocking out Temple in a rainstorm. The rain came again on Tuesday night as the Toledo Liberty faced off in the same bowl, and once again the Rockets would outpace their opponents for their second bowl win of the candle era. It was a strong finish to the season that saw Candle win a second MAC championship, and in a game like that win over Ohio the recipe was solid defense and enough quarterback play

Liberty’s early advantage and late direction in a close loss was impressive given the program is in the midst of a coaching change with Hugh Freeze moving to Auburn and Jamey Chadwell taking over in 2023. Freeze’s absence was particularly noticeable since he was also a play-caller on offense, though That the biggest story on the field was pretty much how both defenses had the advantage most of the night. Chadwell was present to support and promote Liberty Football, but his offensive impact was not shown in the game.

Kandel, who was promoted after Matt Campbell’s departure to Iowa State, has lost four straight games since making his coaching debut in the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl. The Rockets were favored in the four, just as they were on Tuesday against Liberty, so that’s when things started to go sideways. Early on, it was worth wondering if Toledo would ever be victorious in the postseason again. Toledo’s first half drives included three punts, one turnover on touchdowns, one field goal, and no touchdown, giving the impression that the Finn and offense would be unable to move the ball against the Flames defense.

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But that narrative was upended on the first drive of the second half as Finn drove the Rockets on a 75-yard drive over 13 plays that ended with a Lenny Kuhl throw to give Toledo a 10-7 lead.

Liberty had its fair share of self-inflicted cuts throughout the third quarter, limiting their ability to respond and creating more scoring opportunities for Toledo. There was a fumble deep in Liberty territory that set up a Toledo field goal and multiple penalties that turned a touchdown opportunity into a missed field goal attempt. The Flames appeared to be cooked until a pair of touchdown passes connected in the fourth quarter.

While Toledo is happy to lose a four-game losing streak, Liberty missed the opportunity to become the second program in FBS history to win a bowl game in each of the school’s first four years of Cup qualification. The Flames are down to 3-1 in bow games overall, while Toledo is now 11-9 overall in bow games and 4-6 since 2010.