Red and White defeat Salukis in home opener
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 22:09
The Miami University football team defeated Southern Illinois University (SIU) 30-14 to win its second home opener in the past eight seasons.
The RedHawks were led by two interceptions by senior linebacker Pat Hinkel, one of which went for a touchdown.
“Momentum is huge,” Head Coach Don Treadwell said. “Obviously, from an offensive perspective we didn’t come flying out of the gate, but I thought that the defense responded. What a difference it makes when you have a turnover in any game, but when you can take a turnover and convert it into a touchdown, that is what championship type teams do. That was huge early on in the game.”
Hinkel also had a game-high 11 tackles.
“I think both those picks, it was just Christmas come early,” Hinkel said. “I happened to be in the right spot.”
The RedHawks showed signs of life in their running game, as sophomore running back Spencer Treadwell ran for 73 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He bounced back after fumbling on his first carry.
“It felt great to score my first touchdown,” Treadwell said. “Gotta thank the big hogmolies up front. They created holes all game and it was good to finally score one.”
True freshman tailback Jamire Westbrook got the start for the Red and White, picking up 18 yards on five carries and a touchdown.
Redshirt senior quarterback Zac Dysert had another solid day, throwing for 226 yards and a touchdown on 28 completions.
“We didn’t come out in the first half the way we wanted to, but our defense stepped up for us,” Dysert said.
Junior wide receiver Nick Harwell did not put up his usual numbers, catching only three balls for 21 yards. However, with the SIU defense focusing on Harwell, the passing game opened up for the other receivers.
“With Nick being so good, people are going to go after him no matter what and it is going to open everybody else up,” Dysert said. “It opened up [junior tight end] Steve Marck a lot today and [redshirt senior wide receiver] Andy Cruse [too]. We were patient and took what they gave us.”
Cruse had an incredible day, grabbing a career-high 12 balls for 60 yards and a touchdown.
“Nick Harwell is going to see a lot of double coverage, and that’s what he saw today,” Cruse said. “That opens stuff up for myself and the rest of the receivers. Today it benefited me a little bit.”
Marck was also heavily involved in the offense, catching four balls for a game-high 73 yards.
The Red and White struggled stopping SIU’s sophomore running back Mika’il McCall. McCall transferred from the University of Iowa to SIU and ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. He also caught two passes for 13 yards.
“He’s just a big time back,” Coach Treadwell said. “I remember when I was in the Big Ten, everybody wanted to offer him a scholarship. He’s as good of a back I’ve seen in the Big Ten or in any other conference. And he showed that today.”
Despite scoring 30 points, the Red and White left several opportunities on the field and let SIU hang around until late in the game.
“You’re always happy when you win,” Cruse said. “We could have done some better things, but you always take the victory at the end of the day.”
Senior defensive lineman Mike Johns only recorded three tackles on the day, but got into the backfield several times during the game, helping force the bad throw that resulted in Hinkel’s pick-six.
The RedHawks return to action 4 p.m. Saturday when they travel to Boise, Idaho to take on the Boise State University Broncos. The game will be shown on the NBC Sports Network.