The Miami RedHawks were 37-point favorites against Tennessee Tech before kickoff on Saturday.
They covered that betting line in the first half before falling slightly under it in the second. Still, Miami gave the Golden Eagles a predictable 48-17 whipping at Yager Stadium.
“We were better than these guys,” Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. “We did what we should’ve done today, but that’s why you play. You don’t always do it, but our kids came and handled business.”
After a defensive slugfest of a first half against Iowa last week, Miami exploded for 41 points before Saturday’s intermission.
Field positioning played a crucial role in the RedHawks getting on the scoreboard early in the game.
Tennessee Tech tried a pooch kick on the opening kickoff, but it backfired, as Miami returned it to the Golden Eagles’ 47-yard line. The drive stalled after 11 plays, so the RedHawks settled for a 27-yard field goal by senior kicker Sam Sloman to go ahead 3-0.
On the Golden Eagles’ first possession, Miami forced a three-and-out. Tennessee Tech punted and committed a kick-catching interference, gifting the RedHawks a start inside enemy territory for the second consecutive trip.
Redshirt sophomore running back Davion Johnson capped off a seven-play, 45-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run that pushed his team’s lead to 10-0.
A 34-yard field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Devin Parker put Tennessee Tech on the board with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
From there, it was all RedHawks through halftime. Miami utilized three rushing scores, a returned interception and another field goal to drop 31 unanswered on the Golden Eagles. It led 41-3 at the break.
Senior defensive back Bart Baratti was the defensive star of the first half. He tallied four tackles, a sack and found paydirt on an interception return.
“Man, just don’t get caught,” Baratti said, laughing about his thoughts while running back his pick-six. “Just get in that end zone.”
The backups for both teams played out the second half.
For the second straight week, freshman Brett Gabbert earned the start at quarterback for the RedHawks. He completed 10 of his 17 passes for 152 yards. He also ran for two touchdowns.
Baratti called Gabbert “the real deal.”
Gabbert’s unit wasn’t at full strength, missing playmakers like redshirt junior wide receiver Jack Sorenson and junior running back Jaylon Bester.
“It didn’t really make a huge difference whatsoever,” Gabbert said. “We had a bunch of guys step up and play really well this week.”
Both Gabbert’s backups — redshirt sophomore Jackson Williamson and redshirt freshman AJ Mayer — received playing time in the second half.
“It was fun to see other players get in the game, some freshmen as well,” Gabbert said, “Seeing all my friends out there, as well, was really fun.”
Senior quarterback Luke Ward was the only player to spark some momentum for the Golden Eagles’ offense. He didn’t start the game but tossed two second-half touchdowns.
Miami outgained Tennessee Tech in total yards, 349-282.
Next Saturday, the RedHawks turn their attention to the Cincinnati Bearcats. Miami will make the 50-minute drive to Nippert Stadium and attempt to break a 13-game losing streak against the local rival. The contest is scheduled to kick off at noon and air on ESPNU.