DETROIT -- A broken hand and separated shoulder were not enough to stop Bruce Gradkowski from lifting Toledo to the Mid-American Conference championship.
Gradkowski threw three of his four touchdown passes to Lance Moore, leading the Rockets to a 35-27 win over Miami (Ohio) in the MAC title game last night.
When Gradkowski hurt his shoulder on the first drive, he missed only one play. He injured his throwing hand late in the second quarter, and X-rays taken at halftime showed his hand was broken. But he returned to toss three scoring passes in the second half.
"There was no way I wasn't coming back," said Gradkowski, who was 18 of 24 for 251 yards with four touchdown passes and one interception. "Nothing was going to keep me out of this game."
Moore had five receptions for 118 yards and caught three touchdown passes for the third time in his career.
For the fourth year in a row, a quarterback threw four TD passes in the MAC title game. Ben Roethlisberger did it last year for the RedHawks, and Byron Leftwich did it for Marshall the two previous years. "If he did that with a broken hand, that's a really gutsy performance," Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said.
Toledo (9-3) will return to Ford Field to face Connecticut Dec. 27 in the Motor City Bowl. The RedHawks (8-4) will play in the Silicon Valley Classic or Independence Bowl.
The Rockets trailed, 14-7, at halftime and rallied with three TDs in the third quarter. Toledo went ahead, 35-20, early in the fourth on Moore's third score.
Miami pulled within 8 points when Josh Betts followed up a 57-yard pass to Michael Larkin with a 13-yard TD pass to Josh Williams with 4:13 left. Toledo sealed the win with two third-down conversions on the final drive to win the MAC title game for the second time in five appearances.
The MAC had its championship game on a neutral field after the previous seven were hosted by one of the finalists. The announced crowd was 22,138 at the home of the Detroit Lions.