Emily Brustoski, Video Editor | The Miami Student
Saturday night’s 123rd Battle for the Victory Bell was wet, windy and, for Miami fans, miserable as they watched the Bearcats beat the RedHawks. The loss moved Miami Head Coach Chuck Martin to 0-5 in his career vs. UC.
Following a 21-0 Bearcat victory this weekend, the trend of “if only”s against the in-state rival will continue to haunt Miami for at least another year – UC extended their win streak to 13 over the Red & White.
“Both teams had very few chances,” Martin said. “When you get an opportunity to make a big play, a game-changing play, you got to make the game-changing play.”
In a game where neither offense eclipsed 250 total yards due to staunch defense and rainy conditions, the difference was Miami’s inability to cash in on big plays.
Such game-altering chances happened on four occasions Saturday night. Each one went the way of the Bearcats.
The first took place on Miami’s third drive of the game. Following a methodical march into Cincinnati territory, Redshirt quarterback Gus Ragland had Redshirt sophomore tight end Andrew Homer wide open down the seam, but overthrew him, potentially as a result of heavy rain.
“We tried to stay aggressive even though the weather was bad,” Martin said. “If you play them on a normal night, I don’t know if the ball slips out of Gus’ hand when Homer’s running wide open down the middle of the field.”
Following the crucial miss, the ’Hawks failed to return to Bearcat territory for the remainder of the half.
On the other side, Cincinnati Redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder consistently outran Miami defenders to the perimeter, accumulating exactly 100 yards on the ground on the night.
“We were expecting them to run it a lot tonight,” Miami senior defensive tackle Nate Trawick said.
Martin expected the same.
“I’m sure they didn’t care too much that it was torrential downpour tonight because of what they were going to do – run the ball and play defense,” Martin added.
In the midst of the Cincinnati rushing attack late in the first half, the second big moment of the night occurred on 2nd-and-four for the Bearcats at their own 25 when Ridder fumbled behind the line of scrimmage.
Instead of falling on the ball, the ’Hawks defense tried and failed to scoop and score, resulting in a Bearcat recovery at their own nine.
Following a UC punt, the RedHawks started in their own territory and went three and out, squandering another chance to score with the halftime score sitting 7-0 in favor of the Bearcats.
“If you had the opportunity to put points on the board, you had to do it,” Martin said.
Coming out of the halftime locker room, seniors Junior McMullen and Brad Koenig and the rest of the RedHawk defense got a quick stop to give Ragland and co. the ball. Starting at their own 22 yard-line, the Red & White made their way down the field to the Cincinnati 27-yard line.
This would be the site of Miami’s third crucial whiff.
On 2nd-and-10 from there point, Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jalen Walker ran a corner route to the front left pile-on. Rolling out, Ragland looked Walker’s way, leading him just slightly, but the ball slipped between Walker’s hands and fell incomplete.
“We got a guy behind them with a chance for a touchdown and don’t connect on the play, which, again, would have tied the game,” Martin said.
The next play, a 15-yard penalty took the RedHawks out of scoring position. It would be the final drive Miami threatened to score.
While Miami’s offense stagnated in the rain, the defense played a stellar game, allowing only 233 total yards, with only 45 yards surrendered through the air.
“We thought it was going to be a low-scoring defensive battle anyways because that’s how they play,” Martin said. “I don’t know if we put up zero if it’s not a torrential downpour.”
Entering the final quarter of play, Miami looked to get on the board at their own six-yard line. On first down, Ragland threw a slant route that bounced off the hands of Redshirt sophomore receiver Jack Sorenson and into the lap of Cincinnati’s sophomore safety Darrick Forrest.
It would be the fourth and final decisive play.
Forrest returned the interception to the Miami one-yard line, leading to a Bearcat score the next play, making it 14-0 UC.
With the rate the RedHawk offense was operating, a two-score lead felt like a four score lead.
The ’Cats would tack on another score, putting the Victory Bell officially out of Chuck Martin’s reach for the fifth year in a row.
The RedHawks moved to 0-2 on the season and will travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers this week where they will hope to straighten out their offensive woes.
Can Miami fans count on a more productive showing?
“I certainly hope so,” Martin said.