YPSILANTI, MI – In a conference blessed with some prolific passers, Gus Ragland’s numbers don’t always draw a lot of attention. Two numbers, however, are gaining the Miami RedHawks quite a bit of attention. Those numbers are 3 and 0.
Miami (3-6, 3-2 MAC) moved its record with Ragland at quarterback to 3-0 Saturday with a 28-15 win over Eastern Michigan at Rynearson Stadium.
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Ragland, a redshirt sophomore who . . .
"His "body feels better and better," Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. He's "getting more comfortable. I think you saw more stuff (from him) today. ... He's going to get even better as the season goes on."
Kenny Young made it a 14-0 game before the quarter ended when he weaved his way through traffic and then sprinted to a 54-yard touchdown. It was the sophomore’s third big yardage play in three games – all wins.
Young finished with 58 yards on four carries, while Maurice Thomas carried seven times for 82 yards. His 45-yard sprint on he opening drive was a big play leading up to Miami’s touchdown. Alonzo Smith powered his way to 59 yards and a score. Altogether, MU totaled 230 yards with three touchdowns on the ground.
"Obviously, running the ball for 230 yards was a huge key to the game," Martin said. Kenny and Mo (Thomas) being healthy makes a big difference. ... We didn't have them for a game-and-a-half. Those are guys that if you get them out there, they can make big plays."
Eastern Michigan’s defense helped set up an Eagles score before intermission. Jeremiah Harris stripped the ball away while sacking Ragland and his is recovery put EMU’s offense on the field at the Eastern 44. After reaching Miami’s 22, the hosts settled for a 40-yard Paul Fricano field goal.
Eastern Michigan responded on its next possession despite a dubious start. Quarterback Brogan Roback was sacked by Brad Koenig for a loss of 15 yards on the very first play. Roback, however, hit Dieuly Aristilde twice – first for 11 yards and then for 27 – to get the drive back on track.
Miami’s defense stiffened in the red zone and the Eagles faced a fourth and three from the four. Roback managed to find Nigel Kilby dragging across the middle for a touchdown, The score remained 21-9 after a two-point try failed.
As quickly as MU scored, Eastern Michigan would score even more quickly. Two plays into EMU’s next drive, Roback launched a long bomb to Aristilde down the right sideline. The 6-4 freshman pulled it in and scored to complete a 75-yard play. It was part of a huge day for Aristilde, who caught seven balls for 193 yards and the score. It was the highest EMU receiving output since 2004. Roback, meanwhile, completed 23 of 39 for 328 yards with two TDs and one interception on the day.
Another two-point try failed, leaving the hosts down 28-15. Although 11:43 remained in the final period, Miami churned out enough offense to eat up some clock time and give Eastern Michigan a long field. MU’s defense took care of the rest, stopping the Eagles on downs once and finishing them off with a Heath Harding interception with 48 seconds left.
"They out-played us. It's pretty much as simple as that," EMU head coach Cris Creighton said. "We weren't able to do what we set out to do tonight."
"Besides one long ball, our defense played great," Martin said. "We're starting to play some solid football, and we're excited about the opportunities. ... (We've got) back-to-back-to-back wins, and they've all been hard fought."
"I think we'll ... be as healthy as we've been all year going to Week 10," Martin said. "We're starting to play cleaner football, and it's showing in the results."
► Miami held 405-36 advantage in total yardage and had 23 first downs to 16 for the hosts, who converted 4 of 14 third downs. MU was 4 of 9 on third down chances.
► Ninety percent of Eastern Michigan’s yardage came via passes as the Eagles gained just 33 yards on the ground. By contrast, MU totaled 230 rushing yards, averaging 5.4 ypc thanks to several long gainers.
► "It was going to be very important for us to run the ball and to throw the ball," Creighton said. "We really struggled to run the ball against them last year. We (also) knew that they had a really good pass rush and pass defense, and it was what we thought and it was effective."
► Each team had one turnover, Miami, which had been struggling with penalties, drew just two flags for a total of 15 yards against EMU. The Eagles owned seven penalties for 67 yards.