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Football rolls to third-straight win over EMU

Coburn Gillies, Assistant Sports Editor

For the first time since 2010, the Miami University football team has won three games in succession, as the RedHawks earned a 28-15 victory over Eastern Michigan University on the road Saturday.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland threw for 175 yards on 15-of-23 passing for one touchdown. In addition to his passing exploits, Ragland also chipped in a two-yard score on the ground.

With the victory, the 'Hawks improve to 3-6 overall and 3-2 in Mid-American Conference play, good enough for third place in the East Division standings. The Eagles fall to 5-4 on the year and 2-3 in the MAC, placing them third place in the West Division.

After starting the season 0-6, MU has rattled off three straight wins, the last two of which have come on the road against Mid-American Conference opponents Bowling Green and EMU.

"Proud of everybody in that locker room," head coach Chuck Martin said. "Coaches, players, equipment, medical people, everybody that's been around our kids. Fought, fought like crazy all year long. We believe the 2016 RedHawks can be a good football team and do something this year."

Miami raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on the heels of a 54-yard rushing touchdown by redshirt sophomore running back Kenny Young. Later, Ragland continued the 54-yard pattern by tossing his only touchdown for 54 yards to redshirt junior wide receiver Jared Murphy, extending the 'Hawks lead to 28-9 in the fourth quarter.

Offensively, Murphy paced the RedHawks, catching nine passes for 122 yards and one touchdown. The sophomore running back trio of Young, Alonzo Smith and Maurice Thomas combined to rush for 200 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

Throughout this winning streak, the RedHawks have held opponents to under 30 points in each contest.

Sophomore defensive back De'Andre Montgomery led MU's calling-card defense, contributing seven tackles and one pass break-up. Redshirt junior cornerback Heath Harding also helped the cause with one interception and six tackles.

"Really good defensively, holding them to only 33 yards," Martin said. "Besides one long ball at the end, our defense plays a great game."

EMU's offense was led by redshirt freshman wideout Dieuly Aristilde, as he hauled in seven passes for 193 yards and a 75-yard touchdown.

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On defense, Eastern Michigan's junior defensive back Jason Beck paved the way with 11 tackles, one of which was for loss.

Miami's special teams have seen drastic improvement as the season has progressed. Against Bowling Green, the unit performed the best it had to that point in the campaign. On the road against EMU, that performance was arguably surpassed.

"We've been getting better and better on ST [special teams]. Made a huge difference," Martin said.

Penalties bogged down MU throughout its winless stretch to start the season, slowing the offense and hindering the defense during critical periods in many early games. Saturday, the 'Hawks put together their most disciplined game of the year with only two penalties for 15 yards. Eastern Michigan was penalized seven times for 67 yards.

Miami extends its winning streak over the Eagles to nine games, dating back to 1994.

Next week, the RedHawks take on Central Michigan University in a matchup that could send reverberations throughout the whole conference.

"We're excited about the opportunity of November 4th, Friday night," Martin said. "A game that means something at Miami. We haven't had a meaningful November game since obviously 2010 when we won it."

Friday night, the 'Hawks take on the Chippewas at Yager Stadium after two games away from home. Kickoff is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m.