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Miami drops home opener 21-17

Senior wide receiver Sam Martin just misses a pass against E. Illinois. Martin finished with two receptions totaling 27 yards.
Senior wide receiver Sam Martin just misses a pass against E. Illinois. Martin finished with two receptions totaling 27 yards.

RedHawks come up short against FCS opponent Eastern Illinois

By Coburn Gillies, Assistant Sports Editor

The Miami University football team saw a potential victory fall by the wayside Saturday evening, as the RedHawks came up short against the visiting Eastern Illinois Panthers 21-17. Miami fell to 0-2, while E. Illinois improved to 1-1.

Despite out-gaining their opponent by 86 yards, 402 to 316, the 'Hawks still found themselves on the losing end for the second straight contest. The rain delayed loss was viewed by 17,369 fans at Yager Stadium.

Head Coach Chuck Martin believes that to find victory in the future, his team needs to improve at finishing close games.

"For me, again, we gotta figure out how to win games," said Coach Martin. "Sometimes you have penalties that hurt you more. Sometimes they hurt you less. Again, that's part of playing winning football."

Coming off the season opener at Iowa when Miami had only three penalties, the RedHawks appeared to unravel on Saturday as the team was penalized 12 times for 89 yards. EIU, on the other hand, only received the yellow flag three times.

These numerous penalties were a major contributing factor to the loss. Among the 12 yellow flags thrown against the 'Hawks, one included an ejection for targeting.

Redshirt senior J.T. Jones, one of the leaders of this young 'Hawks defense, was ejected for targeting at the 1:12 mark in the fourth quarter. He is now due to miss the first half of next week's game against the Western Kentucky.

"The telltale sign for us today is the penalties. We had three holding penalties that stopped offensive drives. Two after huge plays, huge plays. We had a huge screen pass for a first down called back, and we ended up punting. We had another huge play in the first half called back," said Coach Martin.

Sophomore starting quarterback Billy Bahl seemed to continue his development in the right direction, completing 13 passes on 22 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

The blemish on his record, however, is the one throw that got away from him, one that would set up an EIU touchdown.

"That pick was bad. I just didn't read the right guy," Bahl said. "I still have to cut down on all of the mistakes and put our team in a better position to win."

Miami got the scoring going first, scoring 10 unanswered points to start the game. This scoring was capped off by a 51-yard Bahl touchdown pass to fifth-year senior Rokeem William.

Williams, who many consider the best player on this RedHawks offense, left the game at halftime. Coach Martin declined to comment on the cause of Williams' early exit.

The Panthers came roaring back with a touchdown of their own to end the first half, as quarterback Mitch Kimble and tight end Addison Bounds connected for a three-yard score.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the 'Hawks looked to be in control of the game, leading 17-7.

But, despite the odds, the previously winless Panthers scored a touchdown with 56.3 seconds left, sealing the improbable victory.

Junior linebacker Paul Moses led the Miami defense with a forced fumble and seven total tackles.

The 'Hawks will look to right the ship at home next weekend as they play Western Kentucky University. Kickoff at Yager Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.