In a shootout that saw both sides combine for 1,117 total yards, Miami football found itself on the losing end for the second consecutive week in a heartbreaking 37-29 defeat to Bowling Green State University.
Saturday’s Mid-American Conference East Division affair shuffled the league standings. Miami (2-4, 1-1 MAC) moved from second to third place, as the head-to-head tiebreaker allowed BGSU (1-5, 1-1 MAC) to usurp the ‘Hawks. Akron (3-3, 2-0) tightens its grip on the top spot, still in first after week two of MACtion.
Two themes prevalent within the game were lead changes and a slim point differential, as the largest deficit was 10 points.
Struggles on the defensive side of the ball was the main culprit for this. Supposedly, one of MU’s strong areas, this disappointed head coach Chuck Martin.
“We didn’t tackle good. We didn’t cover good. We weren’t in the right position, some of the times.”
While the Falcons struck first with a Jake Suder field goal, the RedHawks responded with two scores of their own.
Redshirt junior quarterback Gus Ragland found junior wide receiver James Gardner with 6:00 left in the first quarter to claim a 6-3 lead. With 13:44 left in the second period, it was Ragland himself rushing 11 yards to paydirt to push the advantage to 13-3 — the game’s largest margin.
The rest of the first half saw a pair of lead changes, as the Red and White went to the locker room up 19-17.
The lead was temporary, as BGSU Redshirt sophomore quarterback Morgan James found Redshirt wide receiver Teo Redding on the second half’s first play from scrimmage. This gave Bowling Green a 24-19 lead.
In quick response, Ragland found Redshirt senior wide receiver Jared Murphy for a 36-yard touchdown, reclaiming the lead 26-24 in Miami’s favor.
It had been business as usual for Ragland until the 4:28 mark in the third quarter, when Ragland came down with an injury.
“It doesn’t look good. They think he might be out for a little while, we’ll MRI. He’s got a lower-body injury,” Martin said. “They think he’s going to be out a while.”
Ragland’s injury set the stage for the return of former starter, turned backup quarterback Billy Bahl.
While the junior didn’t light-up the scoreboard, his game management kept the RedHawks in the contest. On his opening drive, Bahl marched the ’Hawks 45 yards to set up a 45-yard Sam Sloman field goal, giving Miami a newfound 29-24 lead. This would spell the end of MU’s scoring, though.
With 12:15 in the fourth quarter, lightning struck twice as BGSU’s James found Redding once more, giving the Falcons a 30-29 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After a slew of stalled drives on both sides, a James Gardner completion — originally called a touchdown — found the ’Hawks set up on the one-yard line, needing just three feet to potentially ice the game.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
“We snap a ball, [Nate] Trawick stuck his left arm out not intentionally — wasn’t a bad snap,” Martin said. “When he was coming out of his stance, he flipped his left arm out, ball hit his left arm — almost unexplainable.”
This unexplainable event was a self-induced fumble by MU that was recovered by BGSU and returned 93-yards for the game-sealing score. Bowling Green would see its 37-29 advantage to the end.
The next time Miami play will be on the road against Kent State (1-5, 0-2). Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.