‘Very boring’ road win has Miami tied atop MAC East

RedHawks are off to a 4-1 start for first time in 20 years

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

OXFORD — Miami University’s football team has played in more challenging venues this season than what the RedHawks faced this past Saturday in their Mid-American Conference opener at Kent State, but they again proved their ability to overcome the challenges of playing on the road and leave with a win.

Before a crowd of 13,598 at 25,319-seat Dix Stadium, Miami crafted a workmanlike 23-3 win to improve to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the MAC East Division. Miami and Ohio are tied for first place in the division.

“That was a tough place to play,” 10th-year RedHawks coach Chuck Martin said during the program’s weekly Monday media session. “It was a good crowd. It wasn’t intimidating, but it was a good crowd. It was a good trip.

“It was a good road win — very boring.”

Senior wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr. had a career-best 110 receiving yards and a touchdown on three catches. Miami’s defense limited the Golden Flashes to 36 yards rushing on 35 tries and allowed Kent State to cross the 50-yard line just once in the second half while piling up a season-high seven sacks from six different players.

The win extended Miami’s winning streak to four games, the longest since winning five straight in 2019, the last time the RedHawks won a MAC championship.

“The defense did its business from start to finish,” said Martin, who picked up his 49th career win at Miami to pass Terry Hoeppner and move into second place on the program’s career coaching wins list. Randy Walker leads with 59 wins.

“... The defense was exceptional.”

Five different receivers caught at least one pass from junior quarterback Brett Gabbert, led by junior Cade McDonald, who gathered in four passes for 62 yards.

Miami, which is 4-1 overall for the first time since 2003, is scheduled to play Bowling Green (2-3, 0-1) on Saturday at Yager Stadium in Oxford. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Bowling Green scored a 38-27 win at Georgia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday. Alter product Connor Bazelak passed for a TD and rushed for another for Bowling Green.

The last time the RedHawks won as many as four games in a row, they edged Northern Illinois by three, won at Kent State by seven and at Ohio by three and pummeled Bowling Green by 41 at home before clinching the division title with a three-point win over Akron. A two-touchdown regular season-finale loss at Ball State couldn’t keep them out of the 2019 MAC Championship Game, where they beat Central Michigan, 26-21.

Wilkins flourished in the absence of injured junior wide receiver Gage Larvadain, who was sidelined with a right shoulder injury he suffered during the first series of Miami’s 62-20 win over Delaware State on Sept. 23. Larvadain, a transfer from Southeast Louisiana, practiced during the week before the game, but wasn’t able to make enough progress to safely play.

“Gage couldn’t get ready,” Martin said. “It could be the same thing this week. It was nice to see the receivers step up.”

“We came out pretty good,” he added about the team’s injury situation. “It’s pretty standard for the sixth week. Everybody’s a little beat up.”

What Martin has come to appreciate about this year’s team as it approaches the halfway point of the season — which comes up on Oct. 14 at Western Michigan — is its ability to focus.

“Today’s an off day, but they’ll be doing more football stuff than on most days,” he said. “I love the way they bounced back from the Miami (Fla.) debacle (a 38-3 loss). We’re not going to beat everybody, but we’re a tough team to beat when we play well.”


Bowling Green at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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