By Coburn Gillies, Assistant Sports Editor
Redshirt sophomore Gus Ragland threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns as the Miami University football team earned its first victory of the season at home over Kent State University, 18-14, in front of 15,160 fans at Yager Stadium.
With the RedHawks finally cracking into the win column, they improve to a 1-6 record overall and a 1-2 record in Mid-American Conference play. The Golden Flashes fall to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the MAC.
This was Ragland's first action in six months, as his debilitating knee injury finally healed to the point that head coach Chuck Martin gave him the nod to get back on the field.
For Martin, this first triumph was thanks to the defensive efforts exhibited by the 'Hawks.
"I thought our defense played a really good game. They played really hard the whole game. Up against a lot of, a lot of quarterback runs which is really, really challenging. They obviously kept us in it the first half," Martin said.
Paul Haynes' KSU dual-threat offense was led by junior quarterback Nick Holley, as he contributed 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts on the ground while throwing for 91 yards on 7-for-11 passing.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Junior McMullen led the way for Miami with 10 tackles, while senior linebacker TJ Williams chipped in with seven tackles and an interception.
For the Golden Flashes, their defensive efforts were anchored by senior safety Nate Holley who had six tackles, including one for a loss. Fifth-year senior linebacker Nick Cuthbert contributed six tackles, with one of those for a loss.
Miami showed newfound resilience in the third quarter after Kent State went 11 points ahead on a 21-yard rushing touchdown by Holley. Facing the deficit, MU was in the same position it had been in all year. Yet, each of the past situations resulted in losses.
To earn a winning result this time around, the RedHawks bounced back thanks to redshirt sophomore Alonzo Smith's 15-yard touchdown pass from Ragland, trimming the deficit to four.
Kent State didn't do itself any favors near the end of the third quarter, as the Flashes snapped the ball into their own endzone, resulting in a safety and two points for the 'Hawks. This made the score 14-12 in favor of the Golden Flashes entering the fourth quarter.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Redshirt sophomore running back Kenny Young provided the fatal blow in favor of MU, capping off a comeback that featured 15 unanswered points by Miami. The tailback caught a Ragland pass and charged upfield to the endzone for a 55-yard touchdown. This score gave the 'Hawks a lead that they would not relinquish.
"We made plays down the stretch. That was the key," Martin said.
Miami had trouble consistently running the football against KSU, averaging less than two yards per rush, with only 79 yards on 40 carries.
"They were going to take away the run and make whoever was playing quarterback beat them," Martin said.
While MU struggled to effectively run the football, the RedHawks' penalty problem that had persisted throughout the season was greatly improved Saturday.
Kent State was penalized five times for 39 yards, while the RedHawks were given four penalties for 28 yards.
MU football will take the field again noon Saturday on the road against Bowling Green State University.