CINCINNATI, OH -- Penalties and a pair of turnovers proved costly Saturday at Nippert Stadium as the Miami RedHawks once again came up short, 27-20, in a bid to wrest the Victory Bell away from rival Cincinnati.
After trailing 3-0 early, Miami grabbed the lead three times, only to have the Bearcats tie things up. It was 10-10 at halftime and after MU quarterback Billy Bahl tossed a red zone interception and Cincinnati missed a 42-yard field goal attempt – both in the last 29 seconds.
Miami took its last lead, 20-17, with a 35-yard Nick Dowd field goal with 1:07 left in the third period.
Miami stopped the ‘Cats next drive with . . .
Miami’s defense held UC to a 23-yard field goal to things at 20, but when the RedHawks went three-and-out, UC took over for what proved to be the decisive drive. Starting at their own 36, the Bearcats moved 64 yards in 12 plays. Ross Trail, starting in place of the injured QB Hayden Moore, completed three of four passes in the drive. An 11-yard connection with Nate Cole gave the Bearcats a first down at the MU eight-yard line. Two plays and a penalty later, Tion Green scored from two yards out at 5:09.
Miami’s offense, which struggled in the fourth period, went backward two yards over three plays and a penalty on the ensuring possession. A 16-yard punt gave UC the ball it its on 47 with 3:51 remaining.
Miami’s defense forced 3rd and 12, but Trail connected with Khalil for 36 yards down the right sideline to continue the drive. Khalil was heavily covered on the play, but managed to high-point the pass and pull it down.
The loss dropped Miami to 0-4 at the completion of a challenging non-conference schedule. In two of those games, it committed 12 penalties. The dozen against UC totaled 107 yards. The RedHawks also had 12 against Eastern Illinois, costing MU 84 yards on that occasion.
Cincinnati out-gained Miami in total yards, 461-313. A 185-65 ‘Cats edge in rushing helped the hosts maintain a 36:29-23:31 advantage in time of possession. Cincinnati registered 49 rushing attempts
Miami was 2 of 11 on third down, while Cincinnati converted 8 of 16.
Green led UC rushers with 83 yards and one score on 18 trips. Mike Boone added 74 yards with a TD on 19 carries. Kenny Young paced Miami rushing with 51 yards on 11 carries.
While Trail completed 25 of 38 for 276 yards with two interceptions, Miami QB Billy Bahl hit 14 of 24 passes for 248 yards with two TDs and one interception.
James Gardner topped MU receivers with six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Jared Murphy had just one reception, but that went for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Maurice Thomas returned the following kickoff 94 yards to set up the RedHawks first score. He was injured on the play, however, and did not return. After losing two yards on a run, Bahl drilled a pass to Gardner crossing over the middle in the end zone.
Miami’s defense forced UC to a fourth-and-one situation early in the second quarter. The ‘Cats, sitting at the MU 11, went for it. Trail kept the ball, skirting left end for not only the first down, but a touchdown to give the hosts a 10-7 edge.
Miami responded quickly. Bahl hit Ryan Smith for 19 yards on the next play from scrimmage. That started a 12-play drive that ended with a 26-yard Dowd field goal to tie the game at 10-10.
Miami took its last at 9:08 of the third period when Bahl found Murphy behind the UC defense for a 58-yard catch-and-run score.