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Miami football wins 2023 MAC Championship

The RedHawks celebrate their win over the University of Toledo at the MAC conference in Detroit.
The RedHawks celebrate their win over the University of Toledo at the MAC conference in Detroit.

The Miami University RedHawks have won the 2023 Mid-American Conference (MAC) football championship with a 23-14 victory over the University of Toledo at Ford Field in Detroit.

On the RedHawks’ first drive of the day, Dec. 2, they went 45 yards down the field in three plays but stalled out after that. Miami junior kicker Graham Nicholson nailed his 24th consecutive field goal to put the RedHawks up three.

The Rockets zoomed down to the Miami 30-yard-line on their first drive of the day before their First Team All-MAC quarterback DeQuan Finn fumbled the ball back to Miami.

The teams would trade punts after that. Redshirt-junior receiver Cade McDonald returned that Rocket punt to the Toledo 39-yard-line. A targeting penalty against Toledo’s Judge Culpepper on what looked like a failed third down conversion extended the Miami drive. Two plays later, the RedHawks punched it in to go up 10-0.

After that, the teams traded punts once again. On its second drive after the Miami touchdown, Toledo drove to the Miami 22 and had to settle for a field goal. Miami blocked the 39-yarder, the RedHawks’ third key field goal block of the season.

After a few more punts, Toledo ended the first half with a touchdown. Two previous Rocket touchdowns got called back due to penalties, but they finally punched it in with a 19-yard pass. Miami blocked the PAT, but the RedHawks were ruled offsides, and Toledo converted the two-pointer from the 1-yard-line on the next play to make the score 10-8 going into the half.

Miami forced a Toledo three-and-out on the first Rocket drive of the half, and then Miami went down for a field goal. 

After Miami’s kickoff, Toledo drove 70 yards in four plays for a touchdown. A 44-yard pass from Finn to receiver Junior Vandeross III and a pass interference penalty against Miami set up a three-yard touchdown run from Finn. The Rockets missed the PAT, leaving the score 14-13 Toledo.

The following drive, Nicholson missed his first field goal of the season. A make would have given him the FBS record for the most consecutive field goals made in a season, but instead he’ll enter the record books tied with Chuck Nelson who nailed 25 consecutive field goals for the University of Washington during the 1982 season.

About two minutes into the fourth quarter, Nicholson hit his 26th field goal of the season at the end of a nine-play drive to put Miami ahead 16-14.

After two Toledo punts and one Miami punt, the RedHawks punched in the dagger. Smith broke off a 53-yard run to get Miami to the Toledo 15. The RedHawks punched it in three plays later to make the score 23-14 Miami.

On the following Toledo drive, the Rockets got within field goal range and kicked, but once again the kick was blocked. Toledo recovered the block, but three plays later Yahsyn McKee sealed the game and the 2023 MAC Championship with an interception.

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Miami’s 2023 season will officially be over after a bowl game, which the team earned by winning six games this season. Bowl matchups will be announced Sunday, Dec. 3, on ESPN beginning at noon Eastern Time.