OXFORD, OH -- The Battle of the Bricks became a battle of defenses Saturday as Ohio edged Miami 17-7 at Yager Stadium. It was a 10-7 game until Ohio tacked on fumble for a TD with 1:30 left.
Both teams came in battling injuries and the ships took on some more water over four quarters. Miami (0-5, 0-1 MAC) quarterback Billy Bahl, in fact, was injured just before intermission and did not answer the bell for the second half. That left true freshman Noah Wezensky at the helm.
Although he managed to provide the RedHawks’ only touchdown with a 12-yard pass to Ryan Smith, it was a tough challenge for Wezensky against a swarming Ohio defense.
"Obviously, we were a little limited more limited with Noah," Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. "He's done an unbelievable job (since arriving) and is super smart ... there is not every situation that you want to put him in."
The Bobcats (4-1, 1-0 MAC) registered seven sacks and . . .
The ‘Cat’s final score also came courtesy of a sack-and-fumble. This score was a touchdown on Kevin Robbins’ recovery in the end zone.
“It seems like whenever one side of the ball isn’t getting it done than the other side picks up the slack a little bit and produces," Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. "What we really need to do is have both sides of the ball hitting on all cylinders, then we’ll have a pretty good football team if we can get that done.”
Senior QB Greg Windham provided Ohio's only TD. The dual-threat player covered nine yards on the score and gained 58 yards rushing (31 net) on a team-high 19 carries. He completed 7 of 18 with one interception passing the ball. Maleek Irons gained 60 yards on 18 trips. Jordan Reid was the only Bobcat receiver with more than one reception. He owned four catches for 38 yards.
Miami, which got only one carry from Kenny Young before he went down with an injury, was led in rushing by Alonzo Smith. He made 14 carries for 59 yards and averaged 4.2 ypc.
Bahl struggled early as Miami started with three turnovers in three possessions. Besides the strip fumble on the first play, Bahl was intercepted twice, with one coming in the red zone on the final play of a 63-yard drive. He finished 4 of 9 for 51 yards with the two picks.
Miam's top three receivers missed the game, albeit Rokeem Williams was in for one play. Chris Hudson is out for the year, but Martin hopes to get Williams and Jared Murphy back possibly as early as next week.
Five RedHawks had multiple catches on the day. James Gardner collected four receptions for 63 yards. Tight end Ryan Smith also had four catches (22 yards), including Miami’s only touchdown – a 12-yard strike from Wezensky. The capped an 11-play, 88-yard drive – one of just two Miami drives that exceed 30 yards. The first ended in with an interception.
According to Martin, the first eight minutes of the game were a series of miscues and missed opportunities for his squad. The first turnover - on MU's first offensive play -- was the least distasteful as Martin noted Bahl was trying to protect the football when it was ripped from his grasp. Ohio turned that into three points.
The next two drives ended in interceptions. While the Bobcats didn't get any points out of them, neither did Miami.
Especially early, Martin felt protection was adequate. "I'm not sayinng there wa a clean pocket every time, but we had time," he said. "Some of them we held the ball too long. Some of them we misread the coverage. ... We've got to be more efficient at the quarterback position. You can't turn the ball over like that."
Ohio, meanwhile, hardly seemed its former offensive self. It had just two drives of more than 33 yards. One resulted in a touchdown. The other ended with a blocked field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Miami will again seek its first win when it travels to Akron next Saturday.
Ohio hosts Bowling Green in Athens.