Photo by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor
Despite being 29-point underdogs, the Miami University football team nearly upset rival University of Cincinnati in a 31-24 loss under the lights at Paul Brown Stadium. The RedHawks had the ball at the one-yard line late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game, but came away empty handed in the school's 20th straight loss and ninth straight Battle for the Victory Bell loss.
"By far the best we've played, in all facets of the game, against a really talented team," head coach Chuck Martin said.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Andrew Hendrix said the near upset didn't surprise Miami.
"I think we surprised everybody but ourselves," Hendrix said. "We know within this program how good we are. And we're nowhere near where we need to be, but we are a very good football team. This one slipped away from us, we definitely could have, should have, would have won this game. And that's gonna stick with us and help us prepare next week for Buffalo moving forward. I think the cat's out of the bag on us. We're a team that you don't want to play."
Turnovers and mistakes once again cost the RedHawks. The 'Hawks allowed 14 points on three turnovers, gave up eight sacks and committed six penalties. One of those sacks came on 3rd and goal from the four-yard line on the RedHawks' last possession of the game.
"We had a rookie mistake, but hey, we had a coaching mistakes and veteran mistakes," Martin said. "Obviously everyone is going to talk about a sack, which obviously was a huge play, but we all had mistakes."
Fifth-year senior cornerback Quinten Rollins continued his outstanding play, picking off two passes and breaking up two others. He also tied for the team lead with six tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss.
The RedHawks' running game showed signs of life for the first time in a long time, as they picked up 102 yards on the ground. Excluding the eight sacks quarterback Andrew Hendrix took, the RedHawks had 156 yards on the ground.
The running attack came in a committee, as senior wide receiver Dawan Scott led the team with 50 yards on 10 carries. Spencer McInnis chipped in 48 yards on nine carries.
Senior wide receiver David Frazier was once again the top target for Hendrix, as Frazier reeled in five catches for 162 yards and two scores. He also picked up MAC East Player of the Week honors for his performance.
The RedHawks struck first in the game on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hendrix to David Frazier. UC struck back with a TD pass of its own, as Gunner Kiel found Mekale McKay for a 27-yard score.https://soundcloud.com/downeyts/frazier-td-uc-from-wmsr
True freshman running back Paul Moses then gave Miami the lead back on an 18-yard scamper in which he broke four tackles. It was Miami's first rushing touchdown of the season.https://soundcloud.com/downeyts/moses-run-uc-from-wmsr
"It's nice and, again, it starts with the push on the left side," Martin said. "We got him to the second level. You saw late, when he ran into the linebacker in the middle of the backfield, it wasn't so much fun for the kid. But we got him on a smaller kid, and he had a head of steam, so the kid from Cincinnati didn't stand much of a chance."
The Bearcats responded with 17 unanswered, giving them a 24-14 lead at the half. UC scored with just 31 seconds left in the half thanks to a fumble by Scott.
"We played our tails off in the first half, and you look up and it's 24-14 at half and you can't even believe it," Martin said. "Can't even. It's 17-14 and I was already ill and then we basically said, 'we're getting the ball let's run a couple plays.' We couldn't take a knee, we're trying to get the ball to half time and then we fumble the dang thing. Then they take advantage cause they're good on offense."
Miami came out strong in the second half, scoring on its first possession, courtesy of a 74-yard touchdown catch by Frazier.https://soundcloud.com/downeyts/frazier-td-catch-2-uc-from-wmsr
Miami had several chances to tie the game or take the lead, but were unable to capitalize on them. Kiel threw his second TD pass late in the third, extending the Bearcats' lead to 10. Miami trimmed the lead to one score following a 49-yard kick by junior Kaleb Patterson.
"It looked like one of my drives, the Kaleb field goal," Martin said. "Low, burner, slicing like crazy. We'll take it. There are no style points in this game."
That was close as the RedHawks could get, as Patterson missed a 30-yarder following a Hendrix sack with 5:40 left in the game. UC ran out the remaining time to make it nine straight Victory Bell victories.
"Short term, it's hard enough not to just cut your head off and slam it on the ground," Martin said. "But long-term, I couldn't be happier with where we're at. I seriously think we're a year ahead of. If you had asked me in the spring, I'd have said no chance of competing with three of the first four teams we played, based on where we were at. Big picture, I'm elated."
Miami's next matchup is on the road against the University at Buffalo, where its current losing streak began.