The Miami RedHawks took advantage of Kenny Young’s return and some shaky Akron offense to hand the Zips a 41-17 defeat Saturday at InfoCision Stadium.
Miami had two turnovers of its own, which played into 10 Akron points. The Zips, however, were even more generous to a fault. They gave up five turnovers and committed eight penalties for 86 yards. Several came at critical times, with one wiping out a long punt return for a score.
While the RedHawks have been reeling from numerous injuries, they got one of their key weapons back for Akron. Senior running back Kenny Young returned and, while he was limited to three carries, two went for touchdowns. One was a 74-yard scamper down the sideline that helped break the game open for the visitors. He added a third score on a reception.
Ragland would finish the day completing 24 of 33 for 214 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Akron responded with its best drive of the day, covering 75 yards in eight plays. Quarterback Kato Nelson completed four passes along the way, with Nate Stewart’s 17-yard TD grab culminating the drive.
After forcing a punt on Miami’s opening possession of the second half, Akron appeared to score on a long punt return, but that was brought back after a personal foul penalty on the play.
Akron was forced to punt after three plays, but that punt turned into UA’s only lead of the game when Ulysees Gilbert II picked up a fumble and sprinted 45 yards for an Akron score. With the PAT, UA led 17-14 with 11:06 left in the third quarter.
Young took it in from three yards out to put Miami back in front 21-17. After an Akron three-and-out, the RedHawks put together a 14-play drive, but had to settle for a Sam Sloman field goal at 3:14 of the third stanza..
The Zips were still down just seven points (24-17) with order a quarter to go. But after an Akron punt, Young broke loose for 74 yards to make it a 31-17 game.
“He’s our most dynamic player,” Miami head coach said while noting the boost he gave to an offense with numerous missing parts.
Young’s big run also seemed to fuel the RedHawks defense, which spent the remainder of the game swarming the Zips offense. Junior DB Bart Baratti gave MU a short field when he intercepted an Akron pass at the 21. Miami was held to a 36-yard Sloman field goal, but Brad Koenig intercepted Nelson on UA’s next play from scrimmage.
Akron’s defense again held, this time stopping MU on fourth and one. However, Miami sacked Nelson on the next play and picked up a fumble one snap later.
Miami took over and Davion Johnson rumbled 29 yards to the Akron one. Jordan Rigg put the visitors up 41-17 when he fell on a fumble for his second touchdown in two weeks.
Rigg, a senior, also had a forced fumble earlier and sacked Nelson on the Zips next possession. After a 13-yard Nelson run, linebacker Brad Koenig picked off another Nelson pass to end Akron’s last threat.
"There's not much you can say. We just got whipped and when things started to snowball, it just got rolling," Akron head coach Terry Bowden said. "Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. We couldn't get anything to go our way, and we didn't respond to it as well as we should. We just got beat. Miami is a good football team, and they just played better football than us."
Akron was playing just its fourth game after a weather cancellation of its opener and a bye last week. The defending MAC East champs, who defeated Purdue earlier this season, fell to 2-2 overall, 0-1 MAC.
Miami, bearing the injury scars of five previous weeks, upped its overall record to 2-4 and bounced back from last week’s tough 40-39 loss to Western Michigan to raise its MAC record to 2-1.
This is “probably one of my proudest victories,” Martin said. We’re “a beat up team that everybody is probably leaving for dead. …. If we can get healthy, I think we’ve got a pretty good football team.”