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Midweek MACtion rears head as Miami beats Akron 19-zip at Yager

Brian Ugwu sacks Akron quarterback Jeff Undercuffler Jr. late in the third quarter, killing the drive in a shutout for the RedHawks.
Brian Ugwu sacks Akron quarterback Jeff Undercuffler Jr. late in the third quarter, killing the drive in a shutout for the RedHawks.

Not all wins are pretty, especially in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), and especially once midweek MACtion rolls around. 

Midweek MACtion is a yearly tradition, where the schools in the MAC play on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to garner more viewers and national TV revenue. They’re the only football games on TV these nights and have earned a cult-like following for its wacky plays, tight games and all-around sloppy, physical and fun football. 

“I looked up last night with eight minutes left in every game and all three games were tied,” Miami University football head coach Chuck Martin said, talking about last night’s MACtion slate. “That’s fricking MACtion baby … that’s what makes MACtion so good: goofy stuff happens.” 

Miami’s game against the University of Akron on Wednesday night delivered.

The RedHawks held the Zips to zero points and just 36 net rushing yards. The teams combined to go 6-for-28 on third downs. The RedHawks pitched their second shutout of the year, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 1998.

RedHawk quarterback Aveon Smith finished 8-for-17 with 50 yards passing on the day.

“Nothing we did [on offense] worked,” Martin said. “We called a lot of different plays and none of them worked … I’m not an idiot — if we played them again tomorrow we’d go with a different plan.”

Miami scored a touchdown on its first drive of the day. It appeared that Rashad Amos had fumbled at the tail end of a 40-yard run on the seventh play of that drive, but after a video review, the officials determined the Akron player who forced the fumble had been partly out of bounds when he did so (#MACtion). 

Akron drove nicely down the field on its next drive, but redshirt junior linebacker Matt Salopek intercepted a pass up the middle on the ninth play of the drive. After that, the teams traded six consecutive three and outs before junior kicker Graham Nicholson knocked through a 45-yard field goal to put the RedHawks up 10-0 late in the second half. 

Miami scored again late in the third quarter when Amos broke off another long run, this time a 30-yarder that finished in the end zone.

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“I really applaud my o-line,” Amos said. “... I feel safe behind them.” 

Following the touchdown, Golden Graham Nicholson missed the PAT try, his first miss of any kind this season. Of course, it was because Akron blocked the kick. 

The SpreadHawks scored once more, about midway through the fourth quarter, when Nicholson knocked through a 32-yard field goal, his 19th make on 19 field goal tries this season. The score covered the 17 point spread on the game, making Miami 8-2 against the spread this season.

Akron threatened to score, but Yahsyn McKee snagged his second clutchest interception of the season in the end zone with less than four minutes remaining. 

Miami  is one of just six schools in the FBS with two shutouts so far this season, along with Kansas State University, the University of Louisville, the United States Naval Academy, Pennsylvania State University and Southern Methodist University.

"I told the defense if they hadn't fallen asleep against Delaware State it would be three," Martin said.

Miami is one of only two FBS schools, along with Penn State, with two shutouts against FBS opponents this season.

The game ended uneventfully after that, and Miami officially moved to 8-2 with a final score of 19-0. 

“It was kind of a boring three score win,” Martin said. “And we got out of dodge. We’re 8-2.”

With one win in their next two games, the RedHawks would clinch a spot in the MAC championship game on Dec. 2 in Detroit. With as many as four games still remaining on their schedule, the RedHawks have a chance at their first 10-win season since 2010.

Miami football takes the field next on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at Yager Stadium against the University at Buffalo.