OXFORD, OH – One might say the Miami RedHawks pulled a rabbit out of the hat Saturday. More accurately, perhaps, they pulled a Ragland out of the helmet as Gus Ragland made a surprise start for Miami and led the RedHawks to their first win of the season.
Ragland hit Kenny Young on a 55-yard pass play late in the fourth quarter to give hosting MU an 18-14 win at Yager Stadium. The victory moved Miami to 1-6 on the year and 1-2 in MAC play. Kent State dropped to 2-5 overall with a 1-2 MAC mark.
Ragland suffered a . . .
The redshirt sophomore, who led Moeller to a state championship in his prep days, was the first player recruited by new head coach Chuck Martin even has other schools passed on a player who dazzled more with the run than the pass. Having already redshirted, he was working hard to get back on the field and was recently cleared to play.
When Martin decided to go with Ragland, he became one half of a quarterback “odd-couple.” Injuries had forced Kent State to use running back Nick Holley in a quarterback role that started several weeks ago. Even more than Ragland, Holley’s running skills were incorporated into the Flashes’ offensive scheme. KSU nearly upset rival Akron in Holley’s first outing and then blasted Buffalo last week. He registered four TDs and 224 rushing yards in the latter contest.
Miami also struggled against a stingy defense, totaling 262 yards. Ragland carried 14 times for team-high 36 yards. As a passer, he completed 10 of 21 for 181 yards, no interceptions and both RedHawk TDs.
Kent State committed two turnovers to Miami’s one as both defenses ruled much of the day. The second Flashes turnover sealed the verdict as Deondre Daniels picked off a deep pass by George Bollas on 4th and 15 with just over a minute left. Daniels returned the ball to the 50 and Miami ran out the clock.
After a scoreless first quarter, Kent State drew first blood with 4:22 of the second period. Miami had forced KSU 4th and 1, but Holley picked up a first down with three tough yards. Will Matthrews went off the left side for 17 yards on the next play and Holley covered the final two yards.
It appeared the visitors might take a 7-0 lead into halftime, but Miami kicked-started its final drive with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a Flashes punt. Ragland converted a 4th and 4 before hitting Jared Murphy for 22 yards. KSU then stiffened and MU settled for a 38-yard Nick Dowd field goal as time expired in the half.
Miami responded on the next series, covering 80 yards in eight plays. Ragland hit Alonzo Smith for the final 15 yards to bring Miami within four at 14-10.
A Miami punt late in the period left Kent State deep in its own territory. That spelled trouble after an errant snap then sailed out of the end zone. Kent State’s lead dwindled to 14-12 with 1:45 remaining in the third period.
That margin held up until late in the fourth period.
Miami appeared to get a first down off a third and 12 pass, but a replay review put the ball about a yard short. RedHawks head coach Chuck Martin elected to punt from the MU 29, later noting that his defenders had reported Holley might have been hurt on the last Flashes play and might not be able to return. He also considered that MU could take the lead with a field goal.
Running back Maurice Thomas, out of action since an injury against Cincinnati, moved MU 17 yards on a pass play and another five with a run. Ragland then hit running back Kenny Young on an “out” pattern. He managed to stay just inbounds and raced down the right sideline 55 yards for a touchdown.
A two-point PAT try failed, but Miami held an 18-14 edge with 1:34 remaining. Kent State brought in quarterback George Bolas, but his fourth down pass was intercepted by Daniels.
► Miami had been plagued by penalties and turnovers in recent weeks. It committed just one turnover and was flagged four times for 28 yards Saturday. Kent State had two turnovers and five penalties for 39 yards.
► Kent State’s leading receiver in yards was Matthrews with one catch for 48 yards. Raekwon James (3 catches for 21 yards) and Johnny Woods (2 catches for 16 yards) were the only Flashes with more than one receptions.
► James Gardner (3 for 56) and Jared Murphy (3 for 33) were the only Miami players with multiple receptions.
► Junior McMullen led Miami with 10 tackles, while Tony Reid added eight to lead the RedHawks defense.
► Nick Cuthbert and Nate Holley both registered six tackles for KSU.