For several Miami University veteran players, beating Ohio University when it was ranked No. 23 in 2012 is their favorite memory. The RedHawks didn't have a chance to replicate that memory Saturday, as four Billy Bahl interceptions destined them for a 34-3 loss.
"We have to protect the ball when we throw," head coach Chuck Martin said. "We can make plays in the pass game … there's a lot of ability with our quarterbacks and our skills guys and our running backs and our tight ends. There's not a shortage of talent. Now, shortage of experience and know-how? Heck yeah."
Despite the true freshman's shaky performance, Martin said Bahl is Miami's new starting quarterback.
"We're making that move," Martin said. "The talent level of Billy we feel gives us the best chance in the future … he can obviously make those big plays down the field. He showed us that today."
Bahl's first collegiate start seemed to be going well as he completed his first two passes for a combined 20 yards. However, he was hit by redshirt junior defensive lineman Kurt Laseak during his next attempt, sending a wobbly off-target pass that was intercepted by OU redshirt senior cornerback Ian Wells.
The first half remained bleak for Miami, as they gained five first downs and 106 yards to Ohio's 15 first downs and 267 yards.
The RedHawks' lone score was a 34-yard field goal from senior Kaleb Patterson.
A 2-yard touchdown run from senior running back Daz Patterson, a 6-yard junior wideout Sebastian Smith TD catch and a redshirt senior Josiah Yazdani 50-yard field goal gave the Bobcats a 17-3 lead at halftime.
And it didn't get any better from there.
Bahl opened the second half with a pick-6. His pass intended for sophomore receiver Sam Martin was intercepted by sophomore linebacker Quentin Poling and returned 25 yards for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Bobcats a 24-3 lead with 14:46 on the clock.
Despite the turnovers, there were positive takeaways from Bahl's first start. He showed his arm strength on several deep passes, specifically a 45-yard completion to redshirt sophomore Jared Murphy. The QB finished 8-for-23 for 150 yards.
"Obviously a mixed bag, but more bad than good," Martin said. "But OU's a very experienced team … it's not great when you play a freshman quarterback, and I'm not going to throw him under the bus. But on the other hand, we can't win a game if he's going to throw four picks. He's gotta get better in a hurry and learn from today."
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Martin said the run game was another area that hurt the team. The Bobcats held MU to 87 total rushing yards on 24 attempts.
The RedHawk defense took a hit in the second quarter when one of its leading tacklers, sophomore linebacker Paul Moses, was ejected for a controversial targeting penalty. Martin said though he felt bad for Moses, it helped Miami. Redshirt freshman Brad Koenig filled in for Moses and notched four solo tackles, including one for a 3-yard loss.
"No. 38 played unbelievable," Martin said. "He was probably our best football player."
MU finished with 253 total offensive yards, while OU totaled 428 yards. Murphy collected 78 yards on three catches, and freshman running back Maurice Thomas gained 44 yards on three carries.
Junior quarterback Derrius Vick led the Bobcats, completing 21 of 33 passes for 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His favorite target was junior wideout Sebastian Smith, who totaled 91 yards on nine catches.
The Red and White continue conference play next weekend against Northern Illinois University.