Dan Kukla

Junior Andre Bratton carries the ball and a Kent State defender during Miami’s 33-point homecoming loss Saturday.

Miami University fumbled its chance to move into first place in the MAC East.

Playing a 1-6 Kent State University team that was winless in conference play since September 2007, the RedHawks made six turnovers-eight counting turnovers on downs-in route to a 54-21 loss.

“There’s a fine line between playing well and being embarrassed on homecoming,” head coach Shane Montgomery said. “We’re very disappointed considering what we came off last week.”

Miami’s 54 succeeded points are the most by this team since a 54-3 loss to the University of Miami in 1987.

Kent State set a blistering pace early, opening the game with 44 total yards on its first two plays from scrimmage. A crucial holding call helped keep the Flashes out of the end zone, and they settled for a 48-yard, wind-aided field goal.

Freshman quarterback Clay Belton led Miami on its first scoring drive with a 20-yard bullet to the one-yard line followed by the first rushing touchdown of his career. It was after this promising start, however, that KSU took control.

In the second quarter, Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis set a school record for rushing touchdowns in a game. He punched four carries across the goal line before halftime, burying the ‘Hawks under a 31-7 deficit. Jarvis finished the game with 105 yards and four touchdowns after only receiving three carries in the second half.

Kent quarterback Julian Edelman backed this performance with a career high 162 yards on the ground of his own to lead the Flashes in rushing. It marks his third straight game and the fourth this season rushing over the century mark. He used a combination of designed keepers, option runs and breakdown scrambles to burn Miami with his feet.

“Edelman is a different breed in terms of mobile quarterbacks,” senior defensive back Robbie Wilson said. “A lot of times he is running in passing situations.”

Edelman only completed only 10 passes, throwing for just 107 yards and one touchdown. Belton didn’t fair much better, following up his heroic performance at Bowling Green State University with just 171 yards and two interceptions. Blame for the loss can’t go completely on his shoulders, however, as only two of the six turnovers came by way of his arm.

Sophomore Eugene Harris fumbled a punt return in the second quarter after trying to field the kick inside the 10-yardline. Junior Andre Bratton and sophomore Jamal Rodgers combined for Miami’s other three lost balls. During one stretch of the game, Miami turned the ball over four drives in a row and all six give-aways came within eight drives of each other.

“Miami helped us out a lot today,” Kent State head coach Doug Martin said. “Some of (the turnovers) were our defense but Miami also had an off day.”

While the RedHawks weren’t shy about giving KSU the ball with great field position, the Golden Flashes did their part during the 54-point win. Kent racked up 468 yards on offense, converted on all seven of their red zone chances and scored on five of the six drives started after a Miami turnover.

“Our job is to stop the offense and that is what we did not do,” Wilson said.

Freshman running back JR Taylor provided a bright spot for the ‘Hawks. He rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries and did not fumble once. Taylor, who Montgomery did not originally plan to use at all this season, received 18 carries against Bowling Green where he scored the first touchdown of his career. After using a committee backfield for most of the season, Montgomery hinted that Taylor may become more of a feature back for Miami.

“JR gives us a dimension we haven’t had before,” Montgomery said.

The RedHawks now stand one game out of first place in the MAC East. Their next game is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4 at the University at Buffalo. Miami then returns home Tuesday, Nov. 11 to play the No. 18 nationally ranked Ball State Cardinals.

“We still have a lot to play for,” Montgomery said. “We’re not out of the race but we have our backs against the wall.”