Brett Gabbert smiled as he stepped up to the podium at his postgame press conference.
The sophomore quarterback had plenty to be happy about. He threw for 351 yards on the day, completing 21 of his 28 passes for four touchdowns.
Gabbert credits his teammates for the stellar offensive performance.
“Everybody contributed,” Gabbert said. “The offense was just playing really well.”
Miami's first touchdown came on the opening play of its first drive.
After a fumble by Buffalo gave the RedHawks favorable field position, running back Kenny Tracy took the handoff from sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert. He then pitched it right back to Gabbert, who threw it downfield to Sorenson for a 58-yard touchdown.
The first-play flea flicker caught everyone by surprise, including Miami Head Coach Chuck Martin. Martin was talking to the defense after Buffalo’s first drive, and turned around just in time to see Sorenson running into the end zone.
“I had no idea it was part of the game plan,” Martin said.
Buffalo answered with a rushing touchdown from junior running back Dylan McDuffie. On Miami’s next drive, the offense moved the ball all the way to the nine-yard line before settling for a 27-yard field goal.
Three straight long runs brought the RedHawks down to the 15-yard line on its next drive. On the first play of the second quarter, Gabbert lofted a pass to Mac Hippenhammer in the end zone. The Penn State transfer pulled it in and got a foot inbounds, extending Miami’s lead to 17-7.
After Buffalo kicked a field goal to make the score 17-10, Miami drove all the way down to the Bulls’ 31-yard line before failing to convert on fourth down.
The next play, Buffalo went for the knockout punch. Senior quarterback Kyle Vantrease threw it deep. Second-year defensive back John Saunders tracked the ball all the way, though, and picked off the pass at the 26-yard line.
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For Martin, the interception was the biggest play of the game. After completions of 16, 25 and 13 yards by Gabbert, Second-year running back Kenny Tracy ran up the right sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.
“After a turnover, everybody tries to score, right? So they go with the deep throw, and John Saunders makes an incredible play,” Martin said.
The touchdown made the score 24-10, where it would stay for the rest of the first half.
After a punt by second-year punter Dom Dzioban gave the ball to Buffalo at its own three-yard line, McDuffie fumbled the ball on third down and one. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kobe Hilton fell on it, giving the RedHawks the ball just eight yards away from the end zone.
Two plays later, Gabbert found sixth-year senior tight end Andrew Homer on a crossing route for a ten-yard touchdown.
Miami’s defense bent but didn’t break on Buffalo’s next possession, stopping the Bulls on fourth down at Miami’s 30-yard line.
On first and ten from Buffalo’s 39-yard line, Gabbert stepped back to pass and stepped up in the pocket. He threw it deep to redshirt junior wide receiver Jalen Walker, who caught the pass in the end zone to make the score 38-10.
Buffalo moved the ball deep into Miami territory on its next drive, but failed to convert on another fourth down.
A fumble by Sorenson gave the ball back to the Bulls, who scored three plays later on a throw from junior quarterback Matt Myers to senior wide receiver Quian Williams. Sophomore tight end Tyler Stephens caught Myer’s pass to score the two-point conversion.
Buffalo briefly held hope, but the RedHawks didn’t flinch. Second-year running back Kevin Davis took an end-around and lowered his shoulder for an 11-yard touchdown, but the play was reviewed and Davis was ruled down at the one-yard line. Kansas State transfer Keyon Mozee dove in from a yard out to extend the team’s lead to 45-18.
On Buffalo’s next possession, redshirt junior defensive end Kameron Butler sacked Myers and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Hilton.
It was Hilton’s second fumble recovery of the day, and the third total fumble recovery for the RedHawks. In all, the team forced four turnovers, including Saunders’ interception in the first half.
“Turnovers are key in any game … and that’s really the difference in these MACtion games,” linebacker Matthew Salopek said.
Miami’s 45-18 win gives the RedHawks their 13th straight home win. In 2021, the team is a perfect 4-0 in Yager Stadium.
The win brings the team to 5-5 on the season. With a 4-2 Mid-American Conference (MAC) record, the team is in sole possession of second place in the MAC East Division.
Sorenson continued his impressive season with five catches for 112 yards and the opening touchdown. Walker was the team’s leading receiver, though, with 7 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.
It wasn’t just Sorenson and Walker, though. Seven different players caught passes on the day, with four different RedHawks collecting a touchdown grab.
“I would say there’s a balance in our entire offense,” Gabbert said. “We ran the ball very efficiently, which helped set up the pass game.”
After an impressive win against Buffalo, Miami returns to action next Tuesday at home against the Bowling Green Falcons. The time and television network for the game will be announced at a later date.