Coburn Gillies, Assistant Sports Editor
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland put together a career performance Saturday, leading the Miami University football team over in-state rival Bowling Green State University to a 40-26 victory on the road.
Ragland attacked the Falcons on the air and ground, adding 32 rushing yards on 15 attempts to his 215 yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-35 passing.
This victory moves the 'Hawks to 2-6 on the season and a 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference East division, good enough for a sole possession of third place. BGSU saw its record slip to 1-7 overall and a winless 0-4 record in conference play.
It's been two wins in as many weeks for Miami, a feat it has not achieved since 2012 when the RedHawks downed UMass and Akron in consecutive games.
"Kind of what we thought. We thought we'd have a chance. I said all week we gotta score 30 points and we'll win the game. 30 points would've won it: 30-26," head coach Chuck Martin said. "We're starting to do things that good football teams do. We know we're a ways away but we're definitely heading in that direction."
A huge factor in the weekend's victory was the offensive explosion that saw Miami score 40 points for the first time since 2014. The onslaught meant that the RedHawks have scored 20 points or more in half of their games to this point.
Redshirt sophomore running back Kenny Young and sophomore wide receiver James Gardner were big contributors to reinvigorating the MU offense.
Young broke the 100-yard plateau, running for 118 yards on just eight carries, good enough for a 14.8 yard average per carry. Gardner continued his exceptional play on the season as he caught nine passes for 120 yards.
"So, obviously we played better on the offensive side of the ball today putting up 40 [points], rushing for over 200 [yards], throwing for over 200, and having the ball for over 38 minutes against their offense was key," Martin said.
The dual-headed rushing attack of Young and redshirt sophomore running back Alonzo Smith made the Falcons pay, as Smith did his part by scoring two total touchdowns. He finished the day with 44 yards rushing on 14 attempts, as well as 34 yards receiving on three receptions.
One of these receptions was a three-yard scamper that equalized the score 7-7 early in the first quarter and the other was a 15-yard pass that extended the RedHawks' lead from two to nine points early in the third quarter.
Fifth-year senior Spencer McInnis scored the final points at the halfway mark of the fourth quarter with his first career touchdown courtesy of a two-yard run that extended MU's lead to 40-26, the eventual final.
While a 2-6 record remains concerning, significant progress has been made since the season began. Much of this is due to Miami's calling-card defense, as the Red and White held its opponents below 30 points for the second straight week.
"They had some moments when they were great, they had some moments when they were disappointed," Martin said. "Every time they gave up a drive they bounced back with two or three stops after and then obviously the key interceptions the late-third, fourth quarter with the game on the line. They're making plays to get off the field."
Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Brad Koenig led the 'Hawks defense with nine tackles in addition to a sack and forced fumble. Sophomore cornerback De'Andre Montgomery helped the cause as well with seven tackles, two pass breakups and one interception.
BGSU head coach Mike Jinks' offense saw redshirt freshman quarterback James Morgan toss three touchdowns for 389 yards on 30/49 passing, but also throw three interceptions.
Defensively, the Falcons' efforts were spearheaded by redshirt sophomore defensive lineman David Konowalski as he had nine tackles and one quarterback-hurry-up.
While Miami reverted back to its penalty troubles, committing 10 penalties for 104 yards, this was negated as BGSU also had 10 fouls for 106 yards on the afternoon. In addition, the RedHawks' advantage in turnovers proved to be critical.
"We won the turnover battle four to one, which was huge, and then the penalties we both had 10 for 106 [yards]. Again, there's a couple we gotta eliminate. The one on the kickoff when we're kicking the ball out of the endzone -- that's ridiculous," Martin said.
Miami will try to win its third straight when it returns to action on the road at Eastern Michigan 3:30 p.m. Saturday.