It’s hard to argue with the result.
A ridiculous interception by redshirt senior linebacker Ryan McWood set the RedHawks up with first and goal with mere seconds left on the clock, and redshirt senior running back Zach Kahn punched it in for the game-winning score, finalizing a 38-31 Miami victory over Ball State in Week 1.
Even more importantly, after the loss of sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert due to injury in the second quarter, redshirt sophomore backup AJ Mayer impressed at the position, with 212 yards and three scores. The RedHawks will need every piece ready to go, though, for their Week 2 matchup against the Buffalo Bulls.
Last year’s game at Yager Stadium was an eventful one, with a 34-20 RedHawk win being a big statement in conference play following the 76-5 defeat at Ohio Stadium the week prior. That game saw Buffalo go two scores up in quick succession, before 31 unanswered points in the second and third quarters put the game out of reach, with the Miami defense forcing four turnovers, including one returned for a score.
This Buffalo team, however, is different.
After falling to the RedHawks and enduring a heartbreaking overtime loss to Ohio the week after, the Bulls went 6-1 to finish the season, going from strength to strength including a domination of the eventual MAC runner-up, Central Michigan, at home. And if their last game is anything to go by, they haven’t lost any of that momentum.
Two scores in the first half saw junior running back Jaret Patterson break the school record for career rushing touchdowns, and that’s certainly a matchup they’ll look to exploit against a Miami defense which gave up 4.4 yards per carry against Ball State.
Junior Kyle Vantrease has also maintained his starting quarterback job, with 175 yards and a score showing a capable arm, even while Patterson got most of the attention on offense.
The biggest night, however, came from the defense, with the Bulls combining for five takeaways, three of them for touchdowns. Three scores within 150 seconds, two of them off scoop-and-scores and another after a four-yard Vantrease keeper, put the game far out of reach for the hapless Northern Illinois Huskies.
That is where the danger lies for Mayer and Co. With the potential for rain coming during the game, the RedHawks may be stuck with the daunting task of running into the teeth of such an effective defense. It’s likely the Miami offense will have to score, and score quickly, to keep up if the defense is unable to contain Patterson. This certainly looks like a tricky matchup for the RedHawks.
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Miami @ Buffalo
Kickoff: 11/10, 8:00 p.m. EST at University at Buffalo Stadium
Radio: Miami Radio Network
Players to Watch
AJ Mayer (QB, RS So.) – 16/24, 212 yards, three TD
Zach Kahn (RB, RS Sr.) – nine carries, 42 yards, two TD
Jack Sorenson (WR, RS Sr.) – seven receptions, 139 yards
Ryan McWood (LB, RS Sr.) – 14 tackles, one INT
Lonnie Phelps (DL, So.) – six tackles, two sacks
Kyle Vantrease (QB, Jr.) – 11/17, 175 yds, one TD, one INT, one rush TD
Jaret Patterson (RB, Jr.) – 20 carries, 137 yards, two TD
Malcolm Koonce (DE, Sr.) – eight tackles, one sack, two TFL
Isaiah King (CB, Jr.) – six tackles, two fumble recoveries, one TD
Tim Terry Jr. (LB, Jr.) – five tackles, two fumble recoveries, one TD