Much like their game against Cincinnati two weeks earlier, the Miami RedHawks kept Central Michigan at bay for most of their Mid-American Conference opener on Saturday.
The RedHawks couldn’t finish the job in either game. After giving up two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 14-0 loss to the Bearcats on Sept. 21, Miami yielded two touchdowns in the last 15:45 of a 21-9 loss to the Chippewas before a crowd of 22,750 at Yager Stadium.
Saylor Lavallii gained 151 yards and scored two touchdowns on 25 carries as the Chippewas sent the RedHawks to their fifth loss in five games.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Gearing set a Miami season high with 108 rushing yards on 15 carries. He added 10 yards passing on his first two completions of the season to fifth-year senior quarterback Austin Boucher’s 161 for 171, the most by the RedHawks through the air this season as the RedHawks gained a season-high 294 yards of total offense — exactly matching CMU’s output.
The RedHawks also converted five third downs, matching their total from the previous four games, but they didn’t convert enough of them.
“This was a very disappointing loss,” said third-year coach Don Treadwell, who now is 6-11 in MAC games and 8-21 overall. “Any time you lose, it’s disappointing, but we left a lot of plays on the field. It’s very frustrating. We have to find a way to make those plays. We’ve got to make those plays when we get the opportunity. We did make some plays, and we have to hone in on who’s making those plays.”
Miami’s only touchdown was Boucher’s 10-yard pass to junior wide receiver David Frazier on the second play after freshman linebacker TJ Williams forced a fumble on a punt return and sophomore long snapper Bryce Lehwald recovered it on CMU’s 15-yard early in the third quarter.
Gearing also broke free for Miami’s longest play of the season, a 48-yard run to Central Michigan’s 33-yard line on an option play late in the second quarter. The drive stalled, and sophomore Kaleb Patterson was wide left with a 46-yard field goal after earlier connecting from 40 yards out.
“It felt great to break loose,” Gearing said. “I just wish we could have finished it with some points.”
Central Michigan (2-4, 0-1) took the lead for good at 14-9 with a 16-play, 84-yard drive that consumed seven minutes and 46 seconds. Lavallii capped the drive with a three-yard scoring run, helping the Chippewa take a 14-9 lead with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.
CMU had four of its seven third-down conversions on that drive.
“They had showed that earlier in the game,” said sophomore middle linebacker Kent Kern, who led both teams with 12 tackles. “We were prepared for it, but we didn’t make plays on third down when we had to.”
Notes: Right after CMU’s first touchdown, lightning forced a delay of 48 minutes, starting at 1:52 p.m. … The 1973 Miami team that finished 11-0 overall, including a 16-7 win over Florida in the Tangerine Bowl, and 5-0 in the MAC was honored during Saturday’s game. … Frazier made his first catch of the season, for eight yards, on Miami’s second possession early in the first quarter. Frazier was ineligible for the first four games for academic reasons … The RedHawks travel to Massachusetts for their first MAC road game of the season at 3 p.m. next Saturday.
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