YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN — As the old adage goes, football games are won with a strong running game and great defense, which is exactly what the Miami University football team did on Saturday afternoon in a 28-15 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
Miami used a handful of running backs to rush for 230 yards and held Eastern Michigan to just 361 yards of total offense in the RedHawks third consecutive win after opening the season 0-6. Miami’s three game win streak is the longest since winning six straight games to conclude the 2010 season.
Leading the way were Maurice Thomas (7-82), Kenny Young (4-58), Alonzo Smith (17-59) and Spencer McInnis (5-24) as Miami rushed for a season-high on the ground, helping to dominate the time of possession at 34:40.
The Mid-American Conference’s No. 1 ranked defense did not disappoint, holding the Eagles to just 33 yards rushing on 23 attempts while recording five sacks and one interception. De’Andre Montgomery led the way with seven tackles while JT Jones had a pair of sacks and three tackles for loss. The fifth-year senior now has 24.5 sacks in his career, tied for the third most in school history. Heath Harding record his third interception of the season to ice the game and had a game-high two pass breakups.
Miami opened the scoring with help from Thomas. Thomas began the contest with a 50-yard rush around the right end. Two plays later Thomas once again got to the outside, this time setting up Miami at the EMU 3-yard line. On third down Gus Ragland dove head-first into the end zone to spot Miami an early 7-0 advantage.
After the defense forced a three and out on the next drive, the RedHawks went 85 yards in four plays to give the Red and White a 14-0 lead, capped by a 54-yard rush from Young. The run was the second-longest rush of Young’s career.
EMU added a 40-yard field goal late in the first half to send the two teams to the locker room with the RedHawks leading 14-3.
After the defense forced a punt to open the second half, Miami went on a 13-play, 84 yard drive that took over six minutes to complete, ending in a one yard rushing score from Smith. A Nick Dowd extra point pushed the Miami lead to 21-3, late in the third quarter.
EMU answered with their first touchdown of the game, nine seconds into the fourth quarter to get within 21-9 (two-point conversion fell incomplete), but the RedHawks answered back in a big way.
Facing a third-and-7 from the Miami 46, Ragland found Jared Murphy in the middle of the field for a 54-yard touchdown, spotting the RedHawks a 28-9 advantage. Ragland finished the game completing 15-of-23 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. Murphy recorded a career-high nine catches for 122 yards and one score.
The Eagles would not go away though, answering back with a 75-yard touchdown strike less than a minute later, shrinking Miami’s lead to 28-15.
That was as close as the Eagles would get, as the Red and White ended the contest with a Harding interception at the Miami 4-yard line.
The RedHawks return to action next Friday (Nov. 4) as they play host to Central Michigan at 6 p.m.