Tom Downey, Senior Staff Writer

Miami University redshirt junior running back Justin Semmes punches in the game-winning score Saturday against the University of Akron. (Miami Athletic Communications )

The Miami University football team improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) as redshirt senior quarterback Zac Dysert carried the team to a 56-49 shootout victory over the University of Akron in a record setting performance Saturday. The victory also got the Red and White over the .500 mark for the first time since 2010.

Dysert became the first player in NCAA history to throw for over 500 yards and rush for over 100 yards in a single game.

“It’s awesome, but the most important thing is we got the win,” Dysert said. “Without the receivers, the offensive line, the running backs and the whole offense, that would not have happened. I gotta give credit to them and I thank God for that. We played great.”

Dysert set the school record for touchdown passes in a single game, finding the end zone six times, breaking the mark he held along with Ben Roethlisberger and Sammy Rickets.

“Incredible,” senior wide receiver Andy Cruse said. “It was quite a performance by him. He played really well. I think the whole offense did well.”

Dysert also set a school and MAC record for total offense with 624 yards. The co-captain also ran for a career-high 108 yards and threw for a career-high 516 yards.

“That was absolutely an amazing game for him,” junior linebacker Chris Wade said. “I’m happy for him.”

The 516 passing yards is good for third all-time in the MAC and second in team history, behind Ben Roethlisberger’s 525 yards in 2002 against Northern Illinois University.

“The opportunity presented itself for us to throw the ball,” Cruse said. “I think the entire offense played well.”

The RedHawks finished the day with 705 yards of total offense and 42 first downs, both of which are new school records.

After a back and forth game where the RedHawks fell behind by one point late, Dysert led the team on a drive that lasted just over six minutes to take the lead. However, it was redshirt junior running back Justin Semmes that scored the game-winning touchdown, as Semmes punched it in from three yards out. Semmes finished the game with 20 yards on six carries.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game like that in all of my college years,” Wade said.

With junior wide receiver Nick Harwell still out with a leg injury, sophomore wide receiver Dawan Scott was the beneficiary of several Dysert throws, catching 11 balls for 208 yards and two scores. Andy Cruse continued his strong play with nine catches for 111 yards and a score.

“A lot of guys have stepped up these past couple weeks,” Cruse said of the receiving corps play without Harwell. “They just stepped in and have played really well.”

Redshirt junior wide out Luke Swift caught his first career touchdown pass, a 35 yarder to give Miami a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Sophomore Brison Burris sealed the deal for the Red and White, picking off a pass in the end zone as time expired. It was the only turnover of the day for either squad.

The ‘Hawks’ defense continued to struggle, giving up 629 yards of total offense, including 446 through the air.

Through five games the RedHawks have given up 2,586 yards and are ranked 117th in the nation in total defense, giving up 517.20 yards per game. By comparison, the ‘Hawks allowed just over 360 yards per game in 2011.

“One thing we can improve on is tackling,” Wade said. “If you watch the game, there were a lot of missed tackles. I would say that is the number one thing we can work on.”

Wade continued his strong play, leading the team with 13 tackles. Wade now has 51 tackles on the season in what has become a breakout season for the linebacker from Louisiana.

Graduate senior Dalton Williams was 32-42 for 446 yards and four scores for Akron.

Sophomore Jawon Chisholm was the next running back to have an impressive day against the Red and White’s defense, picking up 156 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He also caught four balls for 54 yards.

The Red and White travel to Cincinnati this weekend to take on the rival Bearcats in the Battle for the Victory Bell.

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