Like every coach, Chuck Martin’s first goal is to win each week. However, another Martin goal for his RedHawks this year is to make sure opponents leave knowing they’ve been in a 60-minute fight.
The RedHawks failed to post a win Saturday as Cincinnati posted a 31-24 victory at Riverfront Stadium, but the Bearcats were forced to go toe-to-toe against their rival foe.
Miami had a golden opportunity to score a tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Andrew Hendrix scrambled 11 yards up the middle to pick up a first down at the Bearcats one-yard line. However, UC’s defense stopped a short run attempt for a loss and then twice sacked Hendrix. Kaleb Patterson’s 30-yard field goal attempt was wide left. Cincinnati took over and ran out the clock.
The Miami “Bell-less” years roughly corresponding to a “down” cycle for the tradition-rich Miami program. Martin was hired as head coach following a winless MU campaign in 2013. While the RedHawks remain on the nation’s longest FBS losing streak (20 games), they are knocking at the door. Once again Saturday, turnovers proved particularly damaging in a close game.
Technically, the RedHawks finished minus-one in the contest thanks to a pair of Quinten Rollins interceptions. However, Miami’s turnovers set up two UC touchdowns, while another ended a promising Miami drive near the Bearcat goal line.
Cincinnati, which blasted Toledo (58-34) behind six Gunner Kiel touchdown passes in its opener a week earlier, held a narrow edge over MU in total yards (370-364), rushing (102-99) and passing (271-262).
Kiel tossed four touchdown passes, including three in the first half and two in a 17-point second quarter. He connected on 25 of 39 overall for 271 yards with the four TDs and two interceptions.
Two of the touchdowns went to MeKale McKay, who had three catches for 40 yards. Shaq Washington led UC receivers with seven grabs for 71 yards.
Hendrix completed 13 of 26 for 262 yards with two TDs and one pick. His top target was David Frazier, who had a huge day, catching five balls for 162 yards and two TDs.
Miami’s run game, which has stuggled mightily in recent times, made it over the century mark, in part, through the addition of Dawan Scott. The standout receiver was given an expanded running role and carried 10 times for 50 yards. Spencer McInnis registered 48 yards on nine carries, while 6-1, 223-pound freshman Paul Moses had four rushes for 17 yards, including an 18-yard TD run.
Tion Green led Cincinnati’s rushing attack with 15 carries for 73 yards. He was particularly impactful on the Bearcats final drive when they ran out the clock.
Miami got on the scoreboard first, forcing a UC punt and then scoring on its first possession. Two Hendrix completions picked up 20 yards to get the drive moving, but a one-yard run by Moses gave Miami a key first down at the Cincinnati 23. Frazier made a leaping catch in the end zone on the next play.
It was a big touchdown, but the RedHawks also suffered a big loss along the way as center Marcus Mathews left with an injury. He was in a boot and on crutches on the sideline before halftime.
Kiel completed four passes in a five-play, 75-yard drive Cincinnati drive later in the period to tie the score. McKay finished the trip with a 27-yard reception on a post pattern.
Miami retook the lead with a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Moses broke several tackles on a third-and-one play to score from 18 yards out.
The Bearcats got back on the board and closed with within four at 14-10 with a 21-yard field goal that capped a 16-play, 70-yard drive which took up almost half of the second quarter.
After a 37-yard punt by MU, Kiel passed nine times – completing six – in 13-play drive that culminated with a 12-yard Kiel-to-Moore TD connection.
That put the hosts in front, 17-14 with 2:25 remaining. When Scott’s fumble two plays into Miami’s next drive was recovered by Mike Tyson, UC took over at the RedHawks 31. Green carried three times (14, 13 and 2 yards). After a five-yard false start penalty on UC, Kiel hit McKay over the middle for a score.
After trailing 24-14 the break, MU struck quickly once play resumed. Three plays into the opening drive, Hendrix found Frazier over the middle, and he broke away for a 74-yard TD.
Kaleb Patterson’s PAT narrowed the Miami deficit to 24-21 and the RedHawks quickly found themselves with a chance to tie or take the lead. Rollins intercepted a Kiel pass on the next play from scrimmage – setting up Miami at the exact short field yardage UC capitalized on just before the half. The RedHawks drive, however, started with a penalty (false start) and ended with Zach Edwards interception at the Cincinnati three.
Miami would not score again until Patterson booted a line-drive field goal from 49 yards out with 13:20 to play. By that time, UC had added another Kiel TD pass, which came three plays after a Hendrix fumble at the Miami 29.
Patterson’s field goal was the only score of the final period as both defenses kept the opposition out of the end zone. Cincinnati’s goal line stand at the one-yard line on Miami’s final drive proved pivotal.