RedHawks fall against Ball State in season finale
In the final game of the season, the Miami University football team lost to the Ball State Cardinals 31-24. The RedHawks finish with a 4-8 overall record and a 3-5 Mid-American Conference (MAC) record for the second straight season.
Despite strong games from redshirt senior quarterback Zac Dysert and sophomore wide receiver Dawan Scott, the Red and White dropped their fourth straight game and finish the season having lost six of their last seven games.
"The season as a whole didn't end up like we were hoping for," senior offensive lineman Brad Bednar said. "We went out prepared and fell short in a couple of games."
Dysert closed his collegiate career by completing 26 of 40 passes for 218 yards and two scores. He moved up to 20th on the NCAA career passing yards list.
Scott was Dysert's favorite target on the day, catching a game high nine passes for 120 yards and one score. He ran for a touchdown as well.
The Cardinals (9-3, 6-2) never trailed and were led by impressive performances by sophomore running back Jahwan Edwards and redshirt freshman Horactio Banks. Taking advantage of a porous run defense which had hurt the 'Hawks all season, Edwards scored three times on 18 carries and picked up 98 yards.
"It is really hard to pin point," senior linebacker Jaytee Swanson said of the run defense. "We've had trouble the entire season with the running game. I don't think there is one particular thing I can blame it on. There is not one thing on my mind that I can say 'that was the major problem.'"
Banks ran the ball 22 times for 80 yards. As a team, Ball State ran the ball 58 times for 226 yards. Ball Sate attempted only 22 passes.
Junior linebacker Chris Wade closed his breakout season with 14 tackles, increasing his total to 128 for the year. He currently sits third in the MAC in tackles.
Ball State jumped out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to a short touchdown run by Edwards. The RedHawks tied the game for the first and only time when Dawan Scott scored on a three-yard run.
However, Ball State would go on a 24-7 run to go up 31-14 at the end of the fourth quarter. The RedHawks would trim the led to 31-24 thanks to a Dysert touchdown pass and a field goal by freshman kicker Kaleb Patterson.
Unfortunately, senior wide receiver Andy Cruse fumbled a punt with 24 seconds left to end any hopes of a Miami comeback.
For the 25 seniors on Miami University's roster, it is a disappointing end to their careers. A few, like Zac Dysert, have a chance to play professionally, but for many, this game likely marks the end of their competitive playing days.
"It really doesn't hit you until you are in the locker room and you realize that you've played your last play," senior linebacker Jaytee Swanson said. "It was disappointing the way we went out, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to play."
The rest of the team will now wait until spring practice to get back on the field, with the memory of back to back 4-8 seasons still fresh in their minds. The team doesn't play an actual game for over 270 days, when they travel to Marshall University at the end of August.
"As a senior, you hope you leave something behind that was positive," Swanson said. "There is something they can always build on."
Perhaps a recruiting class that is ranked third in the MAC with only nine verbal commitments, according to Rivals.com, will give the team some momentum heading into next season.
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