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Given 2nd chance, Brown comes through with big play

Linebacker forces fumble that leads to game-clinching TD

OXFORD – Blair Brown made the most of his second chance Saturday at Miami.

After having a targeting ejection overruled upon video review, Brown knocked the ball out of the hands of Miami freshman quarterback Noah Wezensky and into in the hands of Kevin Robbins in the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown in a 17-7 Ohio victory at Yeager Stadium.

One possession prior, Tarell Basham sacked Wezensky on third-and-17, but officials called Brown for targeting as he came in low with his helmet at Wezensky’s with four minutes to go. Had the call stood, not only would Miami have been awarded an automatic first down, but Brown would have been disqualified. The call was overturned.

The RedHawks (0-5, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) still got another chance, forcing the Bobcats (3-2, 1-0 MAC) to punt after they gained one first down. Kyle Belack made a diving effort to keep Michael Farkas’ punt out of the end zone, Jake Hale followed by tapping the ball a second time, and Javon Hagan downed the ball at the 1-yard-line, putting Miami 99 yards away from a game-winning touchdown with 2:08 remaining and no timeouts left.

Miami gained one first down, but Blair came up the middle at Wezensky on a play from the 13-yard-line, getting to him at the goal line and knocking the ball up in the air to Robbins for the touchdown.

“To be honest I didn’t see the (defensive) call,” Brown said. “I asked Quintin (Poling) what the play call was and he just said go. But he just told me it was double clear and the center stepped outside and I just went. I didn’t know the ball came out, but I thought it was a safety.”

It was the fourth turnover of the day forced by the Ohio defense, which picked off Miami starter
Billy Bahl twice and forced him into a lost fumble in the first half before he left with an injury. The defense was outstanding all day, holding the RedHawks to 238 yards of offense while the offense struggled to just 197.

Had Ohio’s offense been able to take advantage of the turnovers, the game likely would have been out of reach late. It scored only three points off of Miami’s three first-quarter turnovers.

The Bobcats settled for a 33-yard Louie Zervos field goal after Chad Moore forced a fumble recovered by Basham at the 18-yard line. Hagan returned an interception in the end zone 60 yards to the Miami 40, but Ohio quarterback Greg Windham returned the favor, throwing a pick in the end zone to Heath Harding. On the next possession, Toran Davis came up with a pick near midfield, but the offense came up with no points.

Ohio’s only successful scoring drive came with 8:14 to go in the second quarter, with Windham scoring on a 9-yard run to make it 10-0.

The score stayed in favor of the Bobcats by 10 until the RedHawks’ second possession of the second half when Wezensky led an 88-yard drive that culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Smith with 4:17 left in the third quarter.

But that was all Miami managed. It gained only two first downs on its next four possessions before Ohio’s defensive touchdown.

“We just had a lot of pressure on us all week as far as the secondary to do our jobs,” Davis said. “And to just come out and execute at the level that we did is just a big accomplishment. Especially our secondary being so young, they answered the call and came ready to play.”

Brown, Chad Moore and Mayne Williams had nine tackles apiece, with Brown and Moore both forcing fumbles on one of the Bobcats’ seven sacks. Casey Sayles had two of them.

After a great start to the season in his first four games, Windham was just 7-of-18 passing for 56 yards and ran for 31 yards on 19 carries, getting sacked four times. Maleek Irons returned from injury to rush for 60 yards on 18 attempts, and Bo Hardy had 50 yards on 10 carries. Jordan Reid had four catches for 38 yards.

“It seems like whenever one side of the ball isn’t getting it done than the other side picks up the slack a little bit and produces,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “What we really need to do is have both sides of the ball hitting on all cylinders then we’ll have a pretty good football team if we can get that done.”

Miami’s quarterbacks combined to go 18-of-34 passing for 205 yards, but the RedHawks netted just 33 yards rushing on 32 attempts. Alonzo Smith ran for 59 yards on 14 carries, and James Gardner had four catches for 63 yards.

Zervos had a 37-yard field goal try blocked early in the fourth quarter.

Ohio hosts Bowling Green in its homecoming game at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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