The Miami RedHawks only needed the first half to beat Kent State on Saturday. The second half at Yager Stadium was just dessert.
Miami’s offense powered its way to season-highs in total yards (504) and rushing yards (295), while the defense allowed just six points to beat the Golden Flashes 31-6.
“Obviously, we felt like we had to move the ball and score points,” head coach Chuck Martin said. “Our offense did that. They key, though, was that we ran the ball.”
The final score is slightly misleading to how the game started. The RedHawks (3-4, 3-1 Mid-American) led in nearly every statistical category in the first quarter, but neither team pulled ahead as it ended with a 0-0 tie.
Miami took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when redshirt senior quarterback Gus Ragland plowed into the end zone for a three-yard rushing touchdown.
The Golden Flashes (1-6, 0-3 MAC) threatened into RedHawks’ territory on their first drive of the quarter, but failed to capitalize. Freshman kicker Matthew Trickett pushed a 43-yard field goal attempt wide-right.
On the next MU drive, two passing plays of over 20 yards set the RedHawks up inside the five-yard line. Redshirt senior running back Kenny Young punched it in from two yards out for the touchdown.
After Miami forced a three-and-out, the Golden Flashes caught a break. MU redshirt wide receiver Jack Sorenson dropped a punt, allowing Kent State to recover with good field position. But for the second straight defensive drive, Miami forced a three-and-out.
Then for the third straight offensive drive, the ’Hawks scored when Ragland found redshirt junior wide receiver Luke Mayock for a two-yard touchdown.
Miami led 21-0 at halftime.
The third quarter brought much of the same, as the RedHawks forced a three-and-out, before driving down the field for their final touchdown of the game – a six-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Jaylon Bester. The rush was Bester’s first collegiate score.
On its next drive, Miami extended its advantage to 31-0 with a 42-yard Sloman field goal.
With a huge lead, Martin put in his backups at the start of the fourth quarter.
Miami’s defense was closing in on its first shutout since Nov. 2007 until Kent State scored a rushing touchdown with under a minute left in the game.
“Our defense was fantastic from start to finish,” Martin said. “They had a really good week of preparation.”
Ragland threw for 209 yards and one touchdown.
Young, in his second game back from injury, led the RedHawks in both rushing and receiving yards. He had 90 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 47 yards via Ragland’s passes.
“He’s a difference-maker,” Martin said about Young. “There’s little seams and some guys are getting four-to-six yards, and Kenny’s getting 20-to-30 yards. And obviously, he’s a great receiver.”
Young said, “I was just happy to be out there.”
The redshirt senior tailback earned MAC East Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
KSU sophomore quarterback Woody Barrett struggled against the tenacious Miami pass-rush and was sacked five times. He passed for 149 yards and led the Golden Flashes with 75 rushing yards and one score.
With the victory, the RedHawks have won three of their last four games. They’ve won two straight games for the first time since 2016.
On the contrary, Kent State extended its losing streak to five games. The Golden Flashes haven’t beaten an FBS team yet this season, with their lone win coming against FCS Howard in Week Two.
The contest was Miami’s annual cancer-awareness game. The ’Hawks wore special helmets with a colored ribbon of the players’ choice on them. Each color represented a different cancer.
Miami travels to West Point, N.Y., to play the Army Golden Knights on Saturday. The game is scheduled for a noon kickoff and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.