Kent, OH - Miami suffered a rash of injuries to several key players, but gutted out a tough 20-13 win over Kent State at Dix Stadium Saturday.
Miami RB Austin Sykes/Photo: Brian Golden
Daniel Raudabaugh filled in for injured Miami quarterback Mike Kokal, throwing 8 of 12 for 186 yards, including the go-ahead score. The RedHawks' defense added two crucial interceptions while pinned in their own territory, and fifth year senior running back Austin Sykes, who began the year as a third string tailback, chipped in 74 yards on 18 carries.
Miami (1-0 MAC East, 2-0 MAC, 3-3 overall) built a 7-point lead on their first drive of the second half, then held on to win late, knocking Kent State QB Julian Edelman out of bounds on fourth down inside the one-yard line on Kent State's final offensive play with under two minutes to go.
With about a minute to play in the first quarter, Miami's Kokal was forced from the pocket on a third-down and 12 from the Kent State 15-yard line. The senior quarterback made one of most athletic plays of the day, juking and jiving past defenders before going down at the one-yard line. Immediately after hitting the ground, Kokal grabbed his right ankle and came off limping. The Redhawks' Nathan Parseghian would kick a 21-yard field goal to give Miami a 10-7 lead.
Kokal continued to play, but after planting his back foot awkwardly on a cross-field throw, came off pointing to his knee, and in went Raudabaugh on the next drive.
"I just go in there, try to look those guys in the eye," Raudabaugh said. "Maybe I'll crack a joke or something, you know, to keep everyone on their toes."
On his first series in the game, Raudabaugh looked lost, making an ill-advised throw that should have been intercepted by a Kent defensive back. Coming out of the locker room for the second half, however, Raudabaugh and the Miami offense looked sharp, ripping off a 7-play, 71-yard drive to begin the second half and take the lead for good. Raudabaugh capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown toss to Jake O'Connell.
For Kent State (1-2 MAC East, 1-2 MAC, 3-3 overall), the story was once again excessive penalties and an inability to turn yards in to points. The Golden Flashes lost for the second time in three weeks while outgaining their opponents by 50 yards or more, but red zone turnovers and back breaking penalties did them in.
On two separate occasions, Kent State QB Julian Edelman threw balls high up for grabs, only to have them intercepted by Miami defensive backs Robbie Wilson and Wendell Brunson. The second pick by Brunson was particularly painful for the Golden Flashes, coming in the end zone just two plays after the Kent State defense had recovered a Kokal fumble at the Miami 28.
Penalty woes plagued the Golden Flashes as well. Kent's final drive was a nutshell of how harmful penalties were for them all day. After a spectacular run by Edelman brought Kent State inside the Miami red zone, trailing 20-13 with less than three minutes to play, a holding penalty on first down and an intentional grounding call on second down gave Kent 2nd-down and goal from the 32.
After a nifty pass to RB Eugene Jarvis set up 3rd-and-goal from the 11-yard line, Edelman was unable to elude pressure and took a sack, forcing 4th-and-goal from the 17-yard line. Scrambling from the pocket on the fourth down play, Edelman opted to run. Edelman was able to elude a few Miami defenders, but came up just short of the end zone.
The Kent State QB finished with 22 carries for 93 yards, and 19-33 passing for 260 yards. Jarvis, the nation's third leading rusher entering the contest, was held to 82 yards on just 19 carries.
Jarvis got the scoring started with a three yard run, capping the game's first drive less than four minutes in to the contest. Miami answered with a 1-yard touchdown run from Sykes with 7:26 remaining the first period. The squads traded field goals twice, once to keep the game tied at 10-10 after the early scoring, and again later to maintain Miami's 7-point second half margin.
Miami gets Bowling Green next week at Yager Stadium in a battle of MAC East unbeatens. Kent State travels to Ohio Stadium to face the undefeated, 4th-ranked Buckeyes.