Losing is painful. Losing on a last second field goal makes the pain worse. Losing on a last second field goal to a rival on senior night is about as painful as it gets.
The Miami University football team felt that pain Tuesday night in Yager Stadium against Ohio University. The RedHawks (2-9, 2-6 MAC) took a 21-0 lead early, but the Bobcats (6-6, 4-4 MAC) scored 24 unanswered to gain bowl eligibility and spoil the ’Hawks senior night.
“A very, very difficult loss,” head coach Chuck Martin said. “I feel horrendous for the seniors. Those kids have been through a ton here. A lot of times they could have jumped ship … we were bound and determined to get this one done.”
After Miami took the 21-0 lead, the RedHawks failed to enter Bobcat territory until their final drive.
Fifth-year quarterback Andrew Hendrix gave Miami an early 7-0 lead on a 3-yard QB sneak.
“I think Coach Martin could have scored there, honestly,” Martin said. “The hole was enormous. I could have walked in.”
Senior cornerback Quinten Rollins made his presence felt early as well, taking an interception back to the house. He later added an interception in the end zone for a touchback.
“Just got an opportunity to make a play on the ball,” Rollins, who had his college basketball and football careers end with losses to Ohio, said. “Had a comeback [route], read it, jumped it and then I was determined to get into the end zone … I found some cut back lanes and was fortunate enough to score.”
A Hendrix touchdown pass to senior running back Dawan Scott made it 21-0 Miami and it seemed like the RedHawks were on their way to their third victory of the season.
“I was confident we would win the game,” Martin said. “I certainly didn’t think the game was over, but I felt like, at that point, we were playing very well.”
But, the Bobcats returned the kickoff for a touchdown on the very next play and the script flipped.
“They were reeling; that definitely gave them life,” Martin said. “All of the sudden it’s a two score game and they were right back in it. Good teams don’t give up a kick return up 21-0. We get everybody blocked, the guy runs straight up the field … we’ve got a safety and their guy physically beats our safety. You have a safety back there to get him down at the 35, but our safety is just not good enough. He’s trying — you gotta get a better player there. We gotta get a bigger, stronger, more athletic guy who can make that tackle.”
Redshirt junior quarterback Derrius Vick threw two touchdown passes in the second half to tie the game in the fourth quarter, while the Miami offense stalled. The Bobcats changed up their defensive plan, blitzing more and playing more man. The RedHawks offense has struggled against that all season, and Tuesday night was no different.
“Their adjustment was to beat us up and get after us …” Martin said. “We’re not strong enough up front to protect, and we’re not strong enough outside to win outside when people press us. That’s reality of where we are at.”
OU redshirt junior kicker Josiah Yazdani missed a 42-yard field goal with 1:47 left, and Miami got the ball back with a chance to win it. But, the RedHawks offense stalled at the OU 45 and they were forced to punt.
Ohio got the ball at its own 20-yard line and marched down to the 11, thanks to a deep ball against redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshall Taylor.
“Marshall was battling; he’s hobbled,” Martin said. “We don’t have a lot of other bullets. We got who we got. He’s fighting, I’m not down on Marshall. They made a good throw and catch. I thought our defense played well enough to win.”
Yazdani connected on a 28-yarder for the win on the next play.
“We have to understand that we made a giant leap in one season,” Martin said. “We got really competitive in this league in one season.”