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Miami comes up short against Akron

Photo by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor
Photo by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor

Photo by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor

The defense played well enough to win and Miami University outgained the University of Akron, but penalties, turnovers and sacks cost the RedHawks in a 29-19 Mid-American Conference loss.

The 'Hawks (1-6, 1-2 MAC) had 102 penalty yards, three turnovers and allowed nine Akron (4-2, 2-0 MAC) sacks.

"The key mismatch of the game was [Akron's] front seven guys," head coach Chuck Martin said. "We had a very hard time with them the whole day. [We] couldn't run or protect the quarterback near as well as we needed to have a chance."

Fifth-year quarterback Andrew Hendrix completed 24 of 41 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns. He could have thrown for more, but had two completions at critical junctures of the game called back for questionable offensive pass interference calls. One came against freshman tight end Ryan Smith following a completion to freshman wide out Sam Martin, who was tackled at the one-yard line with Miami down nine.

"We've got a freshman tight end who is trying to run a route, he's not as good as the guy that's jamming him, they jam him," Martin said. "We weren't trying to initiate contact, we were trying to run a route. Apparently it looked to the back judge like we're trying to block the guy."

Instead of first and goal from the one, Miami was faced with a 3rd and 25 from the 35 and were eventually forced to punt.

"Our guy was not trying to run into him …" Martin said. "He impeded our progress. They could have just as easily called [defensive] pass interference because the ball is in the air. It's a judgment call and we got the short end of the stick. But they were major, major, major, major, major, major in the outcome of the game. Major."

Senior wide receiver David Frazier was once again Hendrix's top target, catching nine passes for 132 yards and two scores en route to picking up MAC East Offensive Player of the Week.

"It's been a really good season," Frazier said. "At the beginning of the season Coach Martin came to me and told me it should be a good season for me and I should keep doing what I'm done and believing in the system and believing in the coaches and everything would fall in place."

Turnovers also hurt, as Hendrix threw an interception while the 'Hawks lost two fumbles.

"A lot of things we didn't capitalize on," Frazier said. "Too many turnovers. I thought our defense played a good game, but there were certain times our offense didn't capitalize when we needed to."

Miami's defense looked more like the squad that shutout the University of Massachusetts last week than the team that allowed 41 first-half points. The 'Hawks limited Akron to just 318 yards of offense.

"Thought our defense played much better," Martin said. "They were very alert, they were aggressive. They did a lot of good things. They didn't look confused or dazed at times like we have the last couple weeks. I thought they took a step forward. They gave us every chance to win the game."

Senior safety Jarrell Jones had one of his best games as a RedHawk, recording seven tackles, a pass breakup and two fumble recoveries.

"Jarrell Jones took a huge step forward …" Martin said. "He was alert and made a bunch of plays for us in the run and pass. Just seemed confident and looked like the player we thought he could be."

Akron went wire-to-wire for the win, starting with a safety on an intentional grounding by Hendrix. Akron then kicked a field goal following the safety punt to go up 5-0. The Zips took a 12-0 lead after a touchdown run by senior running back Jawon Chisholm. Hendrix found Frazier for an 18-yard touchdown pass mid-way through the second quarter to cut the lead to 12-6 after Miami missed the extra point. Akron responded with a field goal, but Hendrix found redshirt wide receiver Rokeem Williams with 23 seconds left in the half to trim the lead to 15-13.

However, Miami was unable to score, despite chances, until late in the fourth quarter. The Zips tacked on a pair of rushing touchdowns to take a 29-13 lead before Hendrix found Frazier again for a score. The RedHawks' two-point conversion failed and they went on to fall 29-19.

"I think the better team won," Martin said. "I think the team that played better won. We're getting way more competitive. We haven't played close to our best football, and I don't know when that's gonna be, but we're gonna get there. Our kids our getting better."