The RedHawks definitely had to fight for it, but a top-quality interception from Sterling Weatherford sealed the deal for Miami with just a minute left in the game.
A missed extra point from kicker Graham Nicholson put Miami in a precarious position earlier in the game, but third-year quarterback Brett Gabbert found freshman tight end Nate Muersch on a slant in the end zone with 11:54 left in the fourth quarter to give the RedHawks the lead.
Miami elected to try the two-point conversion, and a catch by sixth-year senior tight end Andrew Homer made the score 24-17, where it would stay for the rest of the game. With the win, the RedHawks improved to 4-4 on the season and 3-1 in Mid-American Conference (MAC) play.
Brett Gabbert is BACK
Gabbert had missed the last two and a half games after sustaining an injury in the first half of Miami’s 28-17 win over Central Michigan. Making his first start since the injury, he didn’t miss a beat Saturday night, completing 20 of 24 passes on the night for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
He looked untouchable through stretches of the game, dropping passes of all kinds into wide receivers Jack Sorenson and Mac Hippenhammer, his main two targets on the night.
Gabbert also found his usual success with his legs, scrambling out of pressure to complete passes on multiple occasions, and had the awareness to jump on the ball after having it stripped from him by Ball State’s Christian Albright.
Drew Plitt performed well on the other side of the ball, but Gabbert simply played better, and deserved the win in his comeback game from injury.
The Jack Sorenson Effect
Miami’s offense has increasingly leaned on Sorenson in recent games. The sixth-year senior has compiled over 100 receiving yards in the last two games, and he did it again tonight, with a season-high 138 catches on 8 receptions.
Sorenson had multiple clutch catches, including bringing in some tough balls in traffic and burning cornerback J.T. Wahee on a fourth and 10 play for a catch which eventually led to Miami’s winning touchdown. Wahee was eventually pulled from the game in the fourth quarter, as he simply couldn’t get a handle on Sorenson throughout the night.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Ball State came out of halftime with great momentum, after getting the strip sack on Gabbert to force a punt before taking the lead with a solid touchdown drive. That score, with 8:42 left in the third, would be their last of the game, with the Miami defense bending but not breaking twice after Ball State had entered the red zone.
Ball State could have definitely put Miami’s offense in a much tougher situation if they had scored before Miami’s fourth quarter touchdown, but the defense stepped up with two takeaways and generally excellent play to hold on.
The game got heated at times, especially after a third quarter hit on Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt. Miami kept their nose enough out of trouble throughout the second half for it to make a big difference in the game.
Ball State saw multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as well as critical holding and pass interference penalties to both cancel out a late touchdown and extend Miami’s eventual scoring drive. The RedHawks avoiding those issues when it mattered most is a positive change from play seen previously in the season.
After a big win against the Cardinals, Miami travels to Athens to face Ohio University in the “Battle of the Bricks.” The game will start at 7 or 7:30 p.m.