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Miami hands Ohio first loss on Frank Solich Field, 30-16

RedHawks take control of MAC East

ATHENS – A promising start fizzled, and Ohio lost not only its first game at Frank Solich Field but also most likely the Mid American Conference East Division title with a 30-16 loss to rival Miami in the Battle of the Bricks on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead before surrendering 30 in a row to the RedHawks. With the win, Miami handed Ohio its first home loss in the last two seasons and took control of the division with a one-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker with only three games to play.

A defense that has excelled all season against the run gave up 188 rushing yards to a Miami team that preferred to move in that manner with starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert injured for the rest of the season.

However, the offense was the overwhelming issue again, unable to generate its own rushing yards – only 50 of them on the day. Most notably, Ohio’s inability to move the ball on the ground led to going just 3 of 14 on third-down conversions.

Ohio (6-3, 3-2 MAC) dominated the first quarter, forcing Miami (7-2, 4-1 MAC) into three three-and-outs while scoring on both of its possessions. Sieh Bangura found the end zone from 2 yards out, with the extra point blocked on a low snap, and Gianni Spetic kicked a 33-yard field goal, making it 9-0.

With a chance to add to the lead, the Bobcats had the game’s only turnover when Kurtis Rourke was hit from behind by Miami’s Brian Ugwu, and it was recovered by Corban Hondru at the 11-yard line. The Ohio defense stood tough again, holding Miami to a 26-yard Graham Nicholson field goal. He added a 40-yarder on the next possession to make it 9-6 with 4:20 left in the half.

Then after another failed offensive possession for the Bobcats, the RedHawks were able to take the lead before halftime. Rashad Amos broke free for a 66-yard run to set up his one 1-yard touchdown to make it 13-9.

Cade McDonald’s 43-yard punt return set up the RedHawks on their opening drive of the second half and led to a Nicholson 32-yard field goal. Amos had a 24-yard run on the next possession, and this time, Miami found the end zone on a Smith 3-yard touchdown run to make it 23-9.

The Bobcats failed to convert a fourth-and-1 and Miami’s 30-yard line, and then before the end of the third quarter, they had to punt. That was followed by a 46-yard screen pass touchdown from Smith to Kevin Davis to make it a three-touchdown margin.

Finally, Ohio’s offense was able to complete a drive, converting a pair of third downs along the way and then scored on fourth down on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rourke to Tyler Walton with 7:56 to play.

Any chance the Bobcats had, though, was dashed when Dylan Stevens jumped offsides with the RedHawks lineup to punt with 6:56 still to go, resulting in a first down. Miami was able to convert two more first downs and ran out the clock.

A run-first quarterback, Smith went just 7-of-11 passing for 103 yards, but it was effective when combined with Amos’ career-high 163 yards on 21 carries.

Unable to run the ball, Ohio relied on Rourke to pass all day. He finished 25 of 39 for 313 yards and a touchdown. Both Sam Wiglusz (five catches) and Miles Cross (six catches) had 79 yards receiving.

Miami’s Matt Salopek made plays all over the field on defense, finishing with 14 tackles, while Ugwu not only forced a fumble on his sack, but had another tackle for loss among the five he made in the game.

As usual, Keye Thompson, with 16 tackles, and Bryce Houston, with 11, were enormous on defense for Ohio.

The Bobcats had gone 10-0 at home since dedicating the field in honor of former coach Frank Solich at the start of last season.

Ohio gets a 10-day break before playing at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at Buffalo.

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