Last Saturday, the Miami RedHawks went into Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich. with an air of confidence.
The RedHawks had just defeated Central Michigan 28-17 in their first Mid-American Conference (MAC) matchup, which was a rematch of 2019’s conference championship game.
Still, the team couldn’t overcome the Eastern Michigan Eagles, losing 13-12 on the road.
The ’Hawks move to 2-4 on the season and 1-3 in MAC play.
Miami’s offense outgained Eastern Michigan, putting up 385 yards of total offense to the Eagles’ 257.
The offense marched across midfield and into Eastern Michigan territory six times in Saturday’s matchup, including four trips inside the Eagles’ 30-yard line.
The team couldn’t finish drives, however, and ended with just 12 points on the day.
Penalties were costly for the RedHawks. They committed seven penalties for 63 yards, which put the team behind the chains.
True freshman kicker Graham Nicholson was a bright spot for the team. He converted four of his five field goal attempts, including three kicks of 40 or more yards.
Nicholson’s effort was good enough to earn MAC East Special teams player of the week.
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Ivan Pace Jr. continued his spectacular season against the Eagles. The third-year linebacker had twelve solo and combined tackles, as well as a pass breakup.
On Eastern Michigan’s first drive, Pace stepped in front of Ben Bryant’s pass and picked off the ball inside Miami’s 15-yard line. It was the first interception of Pace’s college career.
Pace leads the RedHawks with 55 total tackles in 2021 and is one of three Miami players with an interception on the season.
Defensive Line Dominates
Coming into the season, one of the team’s strengths figured to be its pass rush. The team was returning key defensive ends like Lonnie Phelps, Kamerin Butler, Dominique Robinson and Ben Kimpler.
But so far this season, the team’s pass rush has been lackluster, amassing just ten total sacks through five games.
That changed Saturday, as the team sacked Bryant six times for a loss of 36 yards.
Butler had two sacks in the game, as Phelps, Robinson and Kimpler each added one. Interior defensive tackle Austin Ertl also added a sack on the day.
Sorenson Continues Dominant Stretch
With starting quarterback Brett Gabbert still injured, AJ Mayer got the start for the RedHawks and had an inconsistent day. The redshirt junior quarterback completed just 16 of his 39 passes, albeit for 259 yards.
Almost half of those completions were to sixth-year senior wide receiver Jack Sorenson, who grabbed seven passes for 123 yards.
In the fourth quarter, Sorenson caught a 43-yard pass from Mayer to get into Eastern Michigan territory. The catch allowed Miami to eventually kick a 44-yard field goal to cut into the Eagles’ lead.
Sorenson now has 29 catches for 452 yards on the season.