By Coburn Gillies, Assistant Sports Editor
The Miami University football team silenced the doubters and was victorious for the sixth consecutive contest in its regular season finale over Ball State University (5-7) by a close score of 21-20. Redshirt junior quarterback Gus Ragland capped off his perfect 6-0 record on the season, putting together a career performance in which he completed 26 of 35 passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns to help secure Miami a spot in a bowl game for the first time since 2010.
After starting the season 0-6, the team seemed to be headed towards yet another losing season. However, out of nowhere, the RedHawks rattled off six wins in succession and, in the process, became the first team in NCAA history to finish a season 6-6 after starting 0-6.
The final hurdle standing in the ‘Hawks’ way on their improbable path to a bowl game was the Cardinals.
Everything was going according to plan, as MU’s MAC-best defense stopped BSU on its opening drive and responded with a 36-yard touchdown connection from Ragland to redshirt senior wide receiver Rokeem Williams.
Ball State would not quit, despite the early deficit. The Cardinals came back with 17 unanswered points to end the first half. Redshirt senior wide out KeVonn Mabon got the offensive assault started with a 25-yard touchdown from Riley Neal. The sophomore quarterback gave BSU the lead with a three-yard scamper to the end zone, putting Ball State up 14-7. Sophomore kicker Morgan Hagee extended the lead to 17-7 with a 31-yard field goal to end the first half. Hagee would score the Cardinals’ final three points giving them 20 for the fixture.
Williams started off the second half with a bang, catching a 74-yard bomb from Ragland on the first play from scrimmage to make the score 17-14, advantage Cardinals.
Following a field goal from BSU to make the score 20-14, Ragland had one more trick up his sleeve. He found Sam Shisso with 5:44 left to play in regulation for a 27-yard touchdown to give the RedHawks a lead they would not relinquish.
Once considered an afterthought, the excitement surrounding Miami football, behind the leadership of head coach Chuck Martin, has reached a high that has not been seen in six seasons.