RedHawks find ways to win against KSU Print E-mail
Written by Mike Smith   
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Sam Kirkland pulls in a pass as Miami defenders close in. Below, Thomas Merriweather finds a little running room. Bottom, MU quarterback Zac Dysert gets hit by Ishmaa'ily Kitchen upon releasing a pass. Photos by Mike Smith.
OXFORD, OH One week after wilting during a Missouri Tigers blitz, the Miami RedHawks proved they could take a punch and come back to win. The hosting RedHawks came up with two huge fourth quarter plays Saturday at Yager Stadium on the way to a 27-21 come-from-behind win over Kent State.

Sophomore defensive tackle Austin Brown provided the first big play when he blocked a Matt Rinehart punt deep in Kent State territory. Evan Harris recovered the ball, and after getting some quick assurances from the nearby RedHawks sideline, returned the ball 18 yards for a score.

He recovers the ball, and then he looks to the sideline, Miami coach Michael Haywood said. I just started screaming, Run, Run.

We just had a missed assignment, KSU senior safety Brian Lainhart said of the play.

Harris touchdown his second defensive score of the 2010 season added to a momentum swing initiated just a few plays earlier. Senior running back Thomas Merriweathers six-yard TD run gave Miami its first lead of the game at 17-13.

Suddenly down 24-14 after Harris TD and the PAT, Kent State regrouped for a nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive that took just 3:35 off the clock. Quarterback Keith Spencers 32-yard pass to senior Luneric Muldrow was the big play in the drive. Spencer eventually scrambled up the middle for nine yards and the score with 10:25 remaining.

Miami took 6:25 off that total with its next drive. Dysert hit Andy Cruse twice on third down to keep the drive alive. Merriweather then moved the RedHawks into the red zone with a 23-yard burst to the KSU 6.

Two runs, however, netted just two yards, and the Golden Flashes forced MU to settle for a 21-yard Trevor Cook field goal. That left KSU down by six with 3:32 remaining, and Dri Archers 39-yard kickoff return to the Kent State 44 set the Golden Flashes up with good field position.

It got even better two plays later when Tyshon Goode made a diving catch for 24 yards. The 6-1, 182-pound sophomore also pulled in a 25-yard completion five plays later to give his team a first-and-goal at the Miami 10-yard line.

Jacquise Terry picked up three yards down the middle before MU turned in its second big play of the quarter. Spencer was looking at Sam Kirkland in the end zone when Jaytee Swanson chased the Kent State quarterback toward the sideline. Any time they can get pressure, it just makes our job that much easier, Miami safety Anthony Kokal said.

Spencer lofted a pass for Kirkland, but Kokal had inside position and came up with an interception to salt the game away.

 I thought he was going to throw it away, so when you put it out there, its just really a jump ball, Kokal said.

We just didnt play well enough in any phase to win the football game, Kent State Head Coach Doug Martin said afterward. We blew some opportunities to score and then, of course, the blocked punt was huge.

Offensively, Martin wanted to get the running game going. Kent State did get 132 yards on the ground, including 86 from Terry and 44 key yards from Spencer. However, injured all-purpose standout Eugene Jarvis did not see action. All three KSU touchdowns came via rushes.

The visitors also picked up 152 yards through the air, as Spencer completed 11-of-26 with two interceptions.

Spencer has proven he can play, Martin said. Hes struggling (now) Hes just turning the ball over too much. Its just carelessness. Hes just got to play better. Thats the bottom line.

Martin said that while Spencers last interception was a bad decision, the first INT was just an attempt to get rid of the ball. To throw it away, you have to hit row 15 in the stands, Martin said.

Miami, meanwhile, registered just 52 yards rushing against the nations No. 1 rushing defense (61.3 ypg), but Dysert provided 294 yards through the air on 31-of-47 passing. Despite sometimes intense pressure, including some batted balls by oncoming defenders, Dysert managed to avoid throwing any interceptions for the second time this season. He had one TD toss, a three-yarder to Armand Robinson with 2:31 remaining before halftime to cut Kent States lead to 14-10.

Jamal Rogers led RedHawks receivers with eight catches for 90 yards. Robinson had six receptions and Chris Givens five for 104 yards, including a 44-yarder.

Martin said the KSU defensive backs gave way too much cushion at times during the game, but he also gave credit to Dysert, who performed well (444 yards of total offense) in his first collegiate start albeit a losing effort last year.

I think Dysert is probably the best in the (MAC) East that I have seen so far, Martin said. He really can hurt you, because he has a great ability to keep his eyes downfield even when he is scrambling and moving out of the pocket. and that is when he really did damage to us today.

Kent State drew first blood with a 39-yard Terry TD run at 10:11 of the first quarter.

Miami came back with a 36-yard Cook field goal at 4:24, but Terry tallied again as KSU built a 14-3 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.

While the RedHawks wilted at Missouri in Week 4, they rebounded this time around.

Dysert recounted a story about boxer Sugar Ray Leonard that Haywood shared with the team during the week. Haywood noted Thomas Hitman Hearns put Leonard down early in the fight, but Leonard came back to win.

We have to learn how to fight back, and we have to learn how to counter-punch when weve been punched, Haywood said. The guys did a much better job of fighting back (today). It was really impressive on the sideline.

The winning effort against a formidable defense coming off a bye week came in spite of the fact that MU has been battling numerous injuries. Some injuries were to key defensive players, but some were along an offensive line that has battled the injury bug all year. For two days of practice, we had a makeshift offensive line, Haywood said. I think they really did a nice job of fighting back from injuries to get back and play. I think they did a nice job of working well together.

Miami, now 3-2 overall and 2-0 MAC, plays its last non-conference game next week when it travels to arch-rival Cincinnati.

Kent (1-3, 0-1) State returns home to face its own arch-rival Akron and will attempt to regain the coveted Wagon Wheel that goes to the victor. It will also be an opportunity to reignite the Golden Flashes drive for a MAC East title.

Its a long season, Lainhart said. Its just like OU did last year. We came down there and put to OU. Everybody counted them out. They had one loss in the conference and ended up playing in the MAC title game. The last time somebody in the MAC East has went undefeated (in conference play) was 04 or something like that.

- Haywood was pleased with the effort of Merriweather, who dragged several KSU players to the end zone for his touchdown and also had another big run. When a runner gets hot, you leave him in. Haywood said.
- Kent State put an embarrassing series-record 54-21 loss on the RedHawks back in 2008. It became the last year for MU Head Coach Shane Montgomery as Haywood was hired after the season.
- Miami was playing without starters Jordan Gafford and Andy Kennedy.
-  Norman Wolfe led KSU with nine tackles (eight solos). Harris paced MU with eight stops (six solos).
- Saturdays weather intermittent light showers. The two teams played through rain last year at KSU.
- Kent State tried to use a pitch and pass play late in the game, but linebacker Jerrell Wedge penetrated to break up the play.
- Freshman Dayonne Nunley now has two interceptions over the first four games of his career.
- Kent States pressure included several batted balls that were nearly intercepted. We had our hands on a lot of balls and didnt come up with them, Martin said. Thats the difference.

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