Six local players will suit up for BG-Toledo rivalry

J. Patrick Eaken

        Bowling Green State University (1-3) and the University of Toledo (4-1) will play at noon this Saturday, Oct. 12 on the CBS Sports Network.
        The good news for the Eastern Maumee Bay community is there are six local players on the rosters, and two freshmen, BGSU freshmen defensive lineman Andrew Bench (Genoa) and Toledo redshirt freshman place kicker Thomas Cluckey (Clay) have already made some noise on the gridiron.
        The game will be played in BGSU’s Doyt L. Perry Stadium and will be a celebration of 100 years of Bowling Green football.
        Sponsored by Cooper Tire, the annual Battle of I-75 game will also serve as Family Weekend as the Falcons and Rockets meet on the gridiron for the 84th time. In recent years, the BG/Toledo game has seen offensive fireworks with each team scoring at least 35 points in all three contests. Toledo holds a slim 40-39-4 edge in the all-time series.
        In recognition of 100 years of BGSU football, the university will hold a reception Friday night that includes a free movie screening and panel discussion. There will also be a pregame tailgate Saturday.
        The 6-foot-3, 217 pound Bench, from Elmore, scored points in the team’s 46-3 season opening victory over Morgan State. Bench forced the Bears' Doc Bonner into intentional grounding in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. The resulting safety is BGSU's first since Chris Jones recorded one on Sept. 1, 2011.
        Last year, Bench helped lead Genoa to its first No. 1 state ranking in program history and an undefeated regular season. The team finished with a 12-1 record in 2018.
        At Genoa, Bench was a four-year starter at tight end and three-year starter at linebacker chosen first team Division V all-state and the Northwest Ohio District Defensive Player of the Year. He was a two-time All-Northern Buckeye Conference and two-time all-district selection.
        On offense, Bench caught 35 passes for 713 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, and on defense he had 103 tackles and 11 sacks, tying the school record. He added 19 tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He holds school records for career tackles and sacks, as well as career receiving touchdowns (16) and single-game receptions (nine).
        Bench, who is studying business, is the son of Donald and Jill Bench. Donald played basketball at Wilmington College.
        The 6-1, 175 pound Cluckey has already earned the job of kicking off for Toledo, which is 3-1 after nationally-televised wins over Colorado State and Brigham Young. He has kicked off 26 times for 1,612 yards (62 yards per kick) with 15 touchbacks. He has also punted twice, for 49 and 41 yards, with one touchback. Cluckey also has a solo tackle.
        Cluckey joined the team as a walk-on in the fall of 2018 after earning second team All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference and honorable mention all-region as a senior at Clay. A mechanical engineering major, his parents are Tom and Cindy Cluckey. His father Tom has been instrumental in coaching him about the kicking game.
        Cluckey was a record setting kicker at Clay who could convert from 50 to 55 yards. His senior year he converted on nine field goals and 10 extra points, scoring 37 points.
        For Cluckey, kicking for Toledo was a perfect fit because he had experience on that surface in high school. In 2017, UT installed a new FieldTurf surface, called Revolution 360, to its 80-year-old Glass Bowl stadium. Revolution 360 was considered the latest in cutting-edge playing surface technology, and Cluckey, a senior that year, became a big fan.
        “I’ve kicked there before,” he said. “I went to a UT kicking camp (that) summer. The thing that was difficult with a field goal there is the (college goal posts) are about six feet narrower than high school. Kicking on turf is a lot easier, just because you don’t have to deal with the little holes in the grass and it’s a little easier for the holder to get the ball down.”
        Cluckey’s 18-yard field goal in overtime gave the Eagles a 13-10 Three Rivers Athletic Conference victory over St. Francis de Sales. Cluckey, a four-year starting goalie on Clay’s soccer team (he was a second-team All-TRAC selection his last season), also booted a career-best 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
        Also suiting up for Toledo are 5-11, 180 pound freshman wide receiver Adam Ummel (Clay), 5-10, 195 pound redshirt freshman kicker D.J. Wellons (Woodmore) and 6-2, 265 pound offensive lineman Dalton Andrews (Eastwood). Also suiting up for the Falcons is 5-11, 225 pound freshman linebacker Justin Schiets, who went to Central Catholic but is from Woodville.
        Ummel was a four-year letter winner at Clay, where was named to the TRAC all-league team as a running back. Ummel caught 34 passes for 642 yards (18.8 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns last year, and he ran for 222 yards on 49 carries and three TDs. His parents are Alfonso and Carol Ummel.
        D.J. Wellons also played basketball and baseball for Woodmore, has four years of eligibility remaining after red-shirting last year.  He walked on and made the team in the spring of 2018. At Woodmore, he was first team All-Northern Buckeye Conference as a defensive back and second team as a wide receiver, and honorable mention all-district as a kicker, playing for Coach Lou Bosh.
        Wellons, whose parents David and Erika Wellons are both nurses, is majoring in computer science and engineering at UT.
        Andrews’ senior year he had 56 tackles, including 21 combined tackles for a loss and quarterback sacks for Eastwood. He led Eastwood to a Division V state runner-up finish, and in the state championship loss to Wheelersburg, he was making his 37th career start dating back to his freshman year.
        Andrews earned first team all-district and as an offensive and defensive lineman and won the school’s lineman of the year award. Majoring in mechanical engineering, his parents are David and Amy Andrews.
        (— includes file contributions from Press sports editor J. Patrick Eaken, contributing writer Mark Griffin and the UT and BGSU sports information staffs)


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association