RedHawks seek bounce back on Homecoming

Miami-Ohio Wide Receiver Jack Sorenson (13) celebrates with his teammates after catching a 23-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Minnesota, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 31-26. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
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Miami-Ohio Wide Receiver Jack Sorenson (13) celebrates with his teammates after catching a 23-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Minnesota, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 31-26. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Credit: CRAIG LASSIG

Credit: CRAIG LASSIG

Coming off loss, Miami hosts Akron on Saturday at Yager Stadium

OXFORD -- One of the three football games Miami was able to squeeze in during the 2020 season cut short by COVID-19 was a 38-7 Mid-American Conference win at Akron.

That game turned out to be the RedHawks’ season finale after their last two games were cancelled.

Miami hopes to continue its journey toward a more familiar schedule when the Zips show up for Homecoming on Saturday at Yager Stadium .

Both teams are 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the MAC. Miami is coming off a frustrating 13-12 loss at Eastern Michigan while Akron came back from a 13-0 deficit to pull out a 35-20 win at Bowling Green.

“Akron took over and forced five turnovers,” RedHawks coach Chuck Martin said of the Zips.

The Zips came up with three interceptions and forced two Falcon fumbles. Freshman cornerback Tyson Durant was named the MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week after logging his first career sack, interception, forced fumble and recovered fumble

What Miami is more concerned about is Akron’s three-quarterback rotation. The Zips like to alternate between 6-foot-6, 215-pound redshirt sophomore DJ Irons, 6-1, 212-pound redshirt senior Kato Nelson and 6-3, 208-pound redshirt freshman Zach Gibson, who entered the game at Bowling Green after halftime and threw three touchdown passes while going 14-of-15 for 177 yards.

“The Irons kid runs all over the place,” Martin said. “Ohio State couldn’t keep him in the pocket. Gibson came in and lit up Bowling Green. His skill level is very good. All three quarterbacks are really good.”

Still, Akron’s defense is allowing a MAC-worst 38.7 points per game and an 11th-worst out of 12 teams average of 439.2 yards of total offense per game. Offensively, they are averaging a 10th-best 21.3 points per game and 335.2 yards of total offense per game. The Zips also have allowed a league-worst 31 sacks, while Miami piled up six sacks from different players in last week’s loss to the Eagles. True junior Ivan Pace Jr., who was moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker when Ryan McWood was lost for the season with an injury, tied the NCAA single-game sacks record with six during Miami’s 20-17 win over the Zips in 2019.

Miami is hoping to get back on track in the MAC after not scoring a touchdown at Eastern Michigan. The RedHawks settled for field goals of 49, 40, 31 and 44 yards from true freshman Graham Nicholson, which led to him being named the MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week.

Miami has won 11 consecutive games at Yager Stadium since a 40-39 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 29, 2018.

The RedHawks are tied with Akron and Ohio for second in the MAC East, one game behind Kent State. Buffalo and Bowling Green both are 0-2 in the conference.

Sixth-year senior wide receiver Jack Sorenson caught four touchdown passes from Brett Gabbert in last year’s win, Miami’s fourth straight in the series after a four-game losing streak. The RedHawks lead the overall series, 20-9-1. Gabbert, who didn’t play at Eastern Michigan, finished 18-of-27 for 308 yards.

Local products who play for Akron are 5-10, 210-pound running back Josh Bryant from Middletown and 6-3, 310-pound defensive lineman Andre Proffitt from Lakota West.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Akron at Miami, 2:30 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1410

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