BY MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH – Miami head coach Chuck Martin’s preview of Western Michigan earlier this week not only noted the Bronco’s impressive offense, it contained plenty of respect for a defense that he said could be “suffocating.”
The RedHawks got a dose of both Saturday as Western Michigan registered a 41-10 victory over Miami. The Broncos (6-3, 4-1 MAC) rolled up 499 yards of offense while limiting Miami (2-8, 2-4 MAC) to 236 yards.
"We didn’t play very well on either side of the ball, said RedHawks head coach Chuck Martin, who figured his team needed a big day on offense to keep up with WMU. "That was the kind of game it was going to have to be for us going in, and we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain, even though we had chances early to do it. We screwed up our chances early, and then it got away from us."
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Jarvion Franklin picked up 182 yards on 29 carries for the visitors. His three rushing touchdowns on the day gave him a Football Bowl Subdivision-best 20 through nine games. It also gave the freshman possession of WMU’s single-season record for rushing TDs.
Franklin wasted little time in moving toward that record, running the ball three straight times to open Western’s first possession and scoring from 55 yards out on the third carry.
"We couldn’t slow them down, really, run or pass. It didn’t matter what they did. They did a nice job," Martin said.
Miami punted three times, gave the ball up on downs twice and threw two interceptions – one by Andrew Hendrix and one by backup Drew Kummer.
Kummer, a junior, came on for a couple plays in the second quarter after Hendrix was injured. However, Hendrix came back in a few plays later.
Kummer returned late as the game after the outcome was assured. He completed 4 of 10 for 53 yards with one interception. Hendrix finished with 7 of 19 for 96 yards, one TD and one interception against a stingy Bronco defense.
"It was tough for us all day. … We knew it was going to be one-on-one (coverage). That is what they like to do," Hendrix said. "They ran zone a few times against us, and we did really well against those coverages. We forced them to do man. … It’s unfortunate (that we couldn't do better), because that is one of our strengths – going against man coverage. It’s been one of our strengths for the entire year. It was just a really disappointing day for us offensively."
"We basically played the same (kind of) defense for most of the game," Martin said. "We were playing man-three coverage and loading the box. They (WMU) did a very good job of defending both run and pass, and we didn’t do a very good job of defending either.
Western Michigan jumped out front early with Franklin’s opening score. Miami responded by moving the ball 70 yards in eight plays before DB Donald Celiscar picked off a Hendrix pass in the end zone. Celiscar, a senior, was active all day and played a significant part in frustrating the Miami passing game. He was credited with three solo tackles, one interception and four pass breakups.
Western embarked on a long drive after the turnover, moving 80 yards in 14 plays for a second TD. Again it was Franklin – this time from four yards out at 12:02 of the second quarter.
A Broncos sack forced Miami to punt from its own end zone, and Western went to work at the MU 37. A 14-yard pass from quarterback Zach Terrell to Darius Phillips and 18-yard Franklin run put the ball at the five. Terrell went in easily from there to put WMU up 21-0.
Fred McRae’s 74-yard kickoff return finally gave MU some momentum. Two plays later, Hendrix hit a diving Dawan Scott for a 19-yard TD.
The momentum continued when Quinten Rollins forced a fumble by Franklin on the next series. J’Terius Jones recovered at the MU 36.
Hendrix was injured while converting a fourth-and-one play on the ensuing drive. Western was then flagged for pass interference on Kummer’s first pass. That moved the ball to WMU’s 23, and Hendrix returned. Two plays later, he was sacked for a loss of 11 yards. When Miami faced a fourth and 22 at the Broncos 35, Kaleb Patterson came on to kick a 52-yard field goal.
The RedHawks had closed the gap to 24-10 and had some momentum. But with just 1:50 left before the break, Terrell completed six passes on an 11-play, 65 yard drive that reached the Miami one with six seconds left. After a false start penalty, the Broncos settled for an Andrew Haldeman 23-yard field goal to take a 24-10 lead into the locker room.
Terrell, who finished the day completing 18-of-23 for 217 yards and 1 TD, finished the opening drive with a five-yard pitch to Corey Davis. The sophomore led Western Michigan with seven catches for 114 yards and the one TD. Phillips and Daniel Braverman combined for nine catches and 78 yards.
Franklin’s five-yard run on the following WMU possession upped the Broncos advantage to 38-10. Haldeman’s 27-yard field goal at 11:44 of the final period concluded scoring.
Western Michigan, riding a four-game win streak, hosts Eastern Michigan next Saturday. Miami is off next week and plays its final road game of the campaign Saturday, Nov. 15 against Central Michigan.
"We needed this break," Hendrix said. "We get a week to get healthy and a week to get some young guys some reps. We’re looking forward to an extra week of prep. Central Michigan is a tough team."