BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- After two weeks without a touchdown, the Miami RedHawks finally found the throttle for their offense Saturday when MU picked up its first 2018 victory with a 38-23 win over Bowling Green.
Despite the injury absence of running back Kenny Young and starters from one side of the offensive line, Miami (1-3, 1-0 MAC) rolled up 289 yards on the ground. That was coupled with what MU Head Coach Chuck Martin characterized as a “timely” passing game. All-MAC wideout James Gardner is also out for an indefinite period, but quarterback Gus Ragland managed to find other targets for some key throws.
Meanwhile, Bowling Green (1-3, 0-1 MAC), was held to 85 yards on 34 carries.
"They killed us running the ball last year, but we pretty much stuffed the run (this time) ... and then we defend the pass well," Martin said.
Part of the credit owed to the RedHawks defense, but another factor was forcing BG to play from behind.
Miami, which had not held a lead at any time this season. got seven first quarter points on a 30-yard Maurice Thomas run down the left sideline. "It kind of got the offense feeling good about itself," Martin said.
Given a first down option, Miami opted to pursue a touchdown. Ragland cashed in one play later with a 6-yard pass to sophomore tight end Andrew Homer with 33 seconds left.
With Bowling Green forced into yet another passing gear, Miami's defense pinned its ears back and brought a heavy rush that harassed Falcons quarterback Jarret Doege time and again. The RedHawks finished with five sacks on the day, and applied pressure on a number of other occasions.
"We're just getting better on that side of the ball," Martin said. "I think the last two weeks haven't been indicative of how well we've played defense, because there have been some turnovers that put us in ridiculous (positions). (This time) we played solid football and we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot."
It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when Bowling Green reached the endzone. First, Doege found junior RB Marlow with a 6-yard TD pass at 5:34. One possession later, he connected with Quintin Morris on a 7-yard TD to make it 31-17 with 4:13 yet to be played.
Miami, which had been slipping in some reserves, returned several starters and drove 66 yards to score its final touchdown. Davion Johnson powered in from three yards out.
That made it a 38-17 game with 34 ticks left. Bowling Green used it all, and cashed in with a final touchdown as time expired. Loy's desperation pass to the two-yard line was surrounded by three RedHawks. Somehow it touched several hands before ricocheting into the hands of Justin Sawmiller, who stepped across the goal line as time expired.