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Miami travels to face Kent State with MAC Championship Game berth on the line

<p>Redshirt sophomore running back Tyre Shelton crosses the goal line for a touchdown in Miami&#x27;s Nov. 16 34-7 win against Bowling Green. Shelton scored two touchdowns in the contest.</p>

Redshirt sophomore running back Tyre Shelton crosses the goal line for a touchdown in Miami's Nov. 16 34-7 win against Bowling Green. Shelton scored two touchdowns in the contest.

Miami head coach Chuck Martin had the team’s season finale against the Kent State Golden Flashes circled on the schedule since the beginning of the season.

Martin knew if things went well this season, Saturday’s matchup would likely decide who represents the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division in the conference championship game.

“When the schedule came out, you kinda thought, ‘Okay, Kent’s got a pretty good team. They’ve got that stud quarterback, they’ve got an offense that scored 60 points a game a year ago. They’ve got five senior o-linemen, they’ve got seniors all over the field… if things go well, it was gonna come down to Week 12 on the road at Kent,’” Martin said.

Fast forward to today, the RedHawks and Golden Flashes both sit atop the MAC East with identical 5-2 conference records.

The stud quarterback Martin is referring to is Dustin Crum, a senior who used the extra year of eligibility given to everyone last year by the NCAA to return for his fifth season at Kent State. The offense, led by Crum, has scored 30 points in six straight games.

Miami’s defense is coming off a stellar performance against Bowling Green last Tuesday. The team held the Falcons to just seven points and recorded eight sacks in the matchup.

Senior defensive end Dominique Robinson, coming off a two-sack performance against BG, thinks the defense can slow down the Golden Flashes.

“They have a fast-paced offense. Dustin Crum is a very good quarterback. He leads that team very well… they can be stopped. It’s not like they’re this unstoppable team,” Robinson said.

Miami’s offense has also been on fire the last few games. The team has scored 30 or more points in the last three games, and sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert has thrown for an average of 356 yards during that stretch.

“The offense is having a lot of fun,” Gabbert said. “We’ve been able to sustain drives, get explosive plays and score the ball.”

If the RedHawks pull out the victory, they’ll travel to Detroit to face the Northern Illinois Huskies, who have already clinched the West Division. The game will be played at Ford Field on Saturday, Dec. 4 at noon.

For Martin, with a trip to Detroit on the line, the game represents the culmination of the work they’ve put in since the end of last season.

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“We’ve been preparing for 11 months to try to get to this point,” Martin said. “The kids have earned this opportunity to have a huge game like this. It’s pretty awesome (on) Week 12 that you get to play as meaningful a game as you can get.”

The Game

Miami University (6-5, 3-2 MAC) @ Kent State University (6-5, 3-2 MAC)

Kickoff: Saturday, 11/27, noon at Yager Stadium


Players to watch

Miami Redhawks

Brett Gabbert (QB, So.) Season stats: 2,013 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 59.9% comp. 

Jack Sorenson (WR, Sr.) 65 receptions, 1,209 receiving yards, 9 TDs

Sterling Weatherford (DB, Sr.) 60 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions

Ivan Pace Jr. (LB, So.) 103 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 INT

Kent State Golden Flashes

Dustin Crum (QB, Sr.) 2,469 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 10 rushing TDs 64.1% comp.

Dantre Cephas (WR, Sr.) 62 receptions, 943 receiving yards, 7 TDs

Dean Clark (S, Jr.) 84 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss

A.J. Mussolino (LB, Jr.) 66 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1 INT