BOWLING GREEN — Ignited by career-best offensive performances and an opportunistic defense, Miami University’s football team topped Bowling Green State University, 40-26, Saturday afternoon at Doyt Perry Stadium.
The 40 points from the RedHawks marks the most scored since a 42-41 victory over UMass on Oct. 4, 2014. It is also Miami’s first two-game win streak since 2012.
Sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland posted a career-high performance, going 22-of-35 for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Kenny Young had a career day, rushing for 118 yards on eight carries, while fellow sophomore wide receiver James Gardner caught a career-high nine receptions for 120 yards. The Miami defense performed stoutly as well, forcing a BGSU safety and three fourth quarter interceptions.
Following a Miami punt on its opening possession, Bowling Green quickly got on the scoreboard with a 72-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback James Morgan to sophomore wide receiver Scott Miller at the 10:16 mark. The Falcons only needed three plays to complete the 89-yard drive.
Both teams traded punts on their ensuing possessions, leading to Miami’s first scoring drive of the contest. With 3:57 remaining in the quarter, Alonzo Smith punched in a 1-yard touchdown to knot the game at 7. Miami was set up at the 1-yard line following a terrific catch by Gardner as he fell out of bounds.
BGSU responded with a 10-play, 49-yard drive that culminated in a 44-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Jake Suder, giving the Falcons a 10-7 lead with 42 seconds left in the quarter.
The RedHawks opened the second quarter with a methodical possession of their own, an 11-play, 67-yard sequence capped off by a 28-yard make from sophomore Nick Dowd that tied the game.
Bowling Green then appeared to return the kickoff return for a touchdown, but the score was called back due to an illegal block penalty. On the next play, Miami shifted the momentum of the game as a BGSU backwards pass was batted into the end zone, resulting in a safety that put it up 12-10 with 10:53 remaining.
Miami capitalized on its next possession as Ragland connected with senior wide receiver Sam Shisso for a juggling touchdown catch in the side of the end zone. The touchdown completed a 9-play, 58-yard drive, extending the Miami lead to 19-10 at the 5:48 mark.
BGSU answered the scoring flurry with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to junior fullback Leonard Skattebo, tightening the margin to 19-17 with 3:15 to play in the half. The score would hold at halftime as each team’s final drives stalled out.
After the Falcons’ went three-and-out on their opening drive, the RedHawks extended their lead to 26-17 with a 15-yard touchdown catch by Alonzo Smith from Ragland at the 10:32 mark.
Following a pair of punts, Bowling Green embarked upon a 7-play, 92-yard drive that was finished off by a 28-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Miller. The score narrowed the margin to 26-23 Miami with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
Miami’s defense made another game-changing play late in the third quarter as a sack by sophomore linebacker Brad Koenig forced a Morgan fumble that was recovered by junior AJ Burdine at the BGSU 31-yard line.
The RedHawks’ resulting drive was in danger of stalling on fourth down when Ragland ran for a 13-yard conversion. Miami took advantage of the second opportunity as Ragland found junior tight end Ryan Smith in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown catch, extending the lead to 33-23 with 13:41 to play.
In just over a minute, the Falcons responded with a 32-yard Suder field goal that cut the advantage to 33-26 Miami with 12:33 remaining in the game. It would be the final score of the game for the Falcons.
On its next drive, Bowling Green neared Miami territory, but Morgan’s heave was intercepted by sophomore linebacker De’Andre Montgomery in a game-saving play at the goal line before being returned 34 yards.
Following the turnover, Alonzo Smith continued his outstanding day with a 62-yard rush to the BGSU 2-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Spencer McInnis grabbed his first career touchdown with a 2-yard run, bringing the score to 40-26 Miami with 7:17 remaining.
The RedHawks’ defense once again came up big on the next drive, as senior linebacker TJ Williams picked off Morgan at the Miami 38-yard line. BGSU would soon regain possession as Ragland’s fumble was recovered at the Miami 48-yard line. The ensuing drive would conclude with the third interception of the fourth quarter, turned in by junior safety Tony Reid.
BGSU was unable to score on its final possession, allowing Miami to kneel and run out the clock.
Miami remains on the road next week as it travels to Ypsilanti, Mich. to face Eastern Michigan at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on American Sports Network and will be streamed on ESPN3.