Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

MU wins fourth straight, remains bowl eligible

Coburn Gillies, Assistant Sports Editor

In its biggest home game since 2010, the Miami University football team extended its win streak to four in a row over Central Michigan, 37-17, in front of 14,270 Yager Stadium fans. Quarterback Gus Ragland threw for a career-high four touchdowns and running back Kenny Young rushed for 89 yards.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback and running back set the tone for the offense, opening up the scoring for the Red and White in both halves. Ragland found redshirt junior wide receiver Jared Murphy for a 10-yard touchdown. Kenny Young started the second half with a career high 72-yard touchdown run to give the 'Hawks a 27-17 advantage.

"We've been playing with a lot of confidence lately, and really just every drive, before it even starts, we're confident, you know, with how it's going to end," Ragland said. "We were kind of rolling on all cylinders."

Since Ragland took over as starting quarterback, the RedHawks are 4-0, as the Cincinnati native has thrown 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Offensively, the RedHawks displayed a perfectly balanced attack with 436 total yards, 218 yards coming on the ground and 218 yards through the air.

Friday night's win puts Miami (4-6 overall, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) in a position to remain in contention for a bowl game and secures the RedHawks' second place standing in the East Division. CMU falls to 5-5 overall and 2-4 in MAC play to fifth place in the West Division with its third straight loss, falling to 5-5 overall and 2-4 in MAC play, putting them fifth in the West Division.

"We had a great victory today," head coach Chuck Martin said. "We beat a really, really good football team."

Redshirt junior cornerback Heath Harding and the rest of the defense were tasked with finding a way to neutralize the Chippewas' senior quarterback Cooper Rush, and they stepped up. After scoring 17 points in the first half, CMU was blanked in the second.

"Cooper Rush is one crazy great player and a great player in this league. He made some throws -- in particular in the first half. I didn't even feel bad about how we played defense in the first half. We made him earn it," Martin said.

Harding shared similar thoughts.

"He's a big time quarterback, as you mentioned. One of the best in the MAC, top in the country, so we knew coming in it was going to be difficult because he can throw pretty much every ball."

Harding finished the night with eight tackles and a pass breakup. Junior safety Tony Reid had five tackles and an interception off a tipped pass. However, Reid was ejected for targeting with 0:29 left in the first half.

Central Michigan was without starting junior running back Devon Spalding, so senior tailback Jahray Hayes filled the void. Hayes scored the Chippewas' only two touchdowns, both one-yard scores on the ground. While Rush -- who changed his number from 10 to 21 prior to kickoff -- didn't find the end zone, he managed to spread the ball out, finding four CMU receivers for at least four catches and 40 yards a piece.

Senior safety Tony Annese and sophomore linebacker Malik Fountain led the CMU defense in tackling, as Annese had 11 while Fountain chipped in eight. The sophomore linebacker was shaken up in the third quarter but returned later.

For the Red and White, penalties were a major problem during MU's six-game losing streak to start the season. At one point, the 'Hawks committed a double-digit number of penalties in four straight games. Friday night, the team committed just three penalties.

"Way back, early in the year, we cost ourselves games by just doing dumb things," Martin said.

With the win, the 'Hawks managed to end the three-game losing streak they had against the Chippewas.

Next weekend, Miami travels to face the University at Buffalo. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 1:00 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN3. The RedHawks look to extend their winning streak to five games, and to take the next step toward qualifying for their first bowl game in six years.