OXFORD, OH -- Home or away, east or west, day or night – it doesn’t seem to matter for the Miami RedHawks right now. The team that couldn’t win for half a season is now riding a four-game winning streak.
Gus Ragland tossed four touchdown passes Friday night as Miami (4-6, 4-2 MAC) defeated Central Michigan, 37-17, at Yager Stadium. The redshirt sophomore, who battled back from a spring ACL injury, added a net of 60 yards rushing in his fourth start – all wins.
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"When coach Martin recruited us, we knew what we were getting into," Ragland said. "But every year, we thought about being the guys to turn it around and get things going. We're not there yet, but its getting there. You can feel it. You can feel the energy in the locker room."
Central Michigan had . . .
"It's frustrating," Chippewas coach John Bonamego said. "We're all frustrated. I'm frustrated. We've got a little bit of time here to kind of regroup. We've got to pick up the pieces and see what we can salvage for the rest of the season."
By the end, Miami owned a 436-292 advantage in total yardage. Ragland completed 13 of 21 attempts for 218 yards and the RedHawks duplicated that total on the ground, rushing 41 times for another 218 yards.
"I think getting healthy on offense gives us a lot of options," Martin said. "Now we have a full compliment of tailbacks. ... We've got good balance (there). We like big backs; we like small backs."
He also credited the players up front. "we've got a lot of good, young linemen. They're pushing guys around and our backs are doing a nice job of setting up their blocks."
Central Michigan got 242 passing yards as Cooper Rush completed 21 of 32 attempts with one interception. He did not register a passing touchdown, however, for the first time time year. It was also the first regular season game without a Rush TD pass since the 2015 opener against Oklahoma State. Miami also managed to sack the senior three times for -19 yards.
"We knew coming in it was going to be difficult, because he can throw pretty much every ball, and their offense does a great job (by scheme) ... of gettingg their receivers out in space," Miami DB Heath Harding said. "Our defensive line guys got some good pressure on him and (forced) him to make some throws he didn't want to make, so we capitalized on that."
Meanwhile, the Chippewas’ ground game managed just 50 yards on 23 attempts. Jahray Hayes, starting in place of injured Devon Spalding for the second straight game, led the CMU ground game with 18 carries for 60 yards and both Chippewas scores.
Miami responded on its own first possession, going 70 yards in seven plays. Ragland found Jared Murphy for 10 yards and the score, but CMU blocked the PAT.
Central had the ball for one play on its next possession as Tony Reid came up with an interception and returned it to the CMU 25. Four plays later, Ragland found Ryan Smith on a 12-yard pass for the score. A successful PAT kick left Miami with a 13-7 lead.
Scoring seemed easy early as the first six drives resulted in five touchdowns and one interception. The Chippewas went back in front, 14-13, early in the second period with another one-yard Hayes run.
Ragland completed four passes and ran for another 11 yards as MU reached the CMU six-yard line on the RedHawks next drive. After two in-completions, Ragland connected with Sam Shisso in the corner for a TD at 9:52. That put Miami up 20-14.
"That opening play of the second half, I think, was really a back-breaker," Bonamego said. "If you want to point to one play in the game that really kind of took the air out of us a little bit, it was that one. That put them up two scores, and then you are playing catchup."
It was a "well blocked play," Martin said. "He hit it and used his speed and was gone. ... He's been fantastic."
That score gave the hosts a 27-17 lead, and Nick Dowd added a 34-yard field goal midway through the period. Young later registered the game’s final touchdown, catching a Ragland third down throw along the right sideline and finishing for a 22-yard score.
"They moved the ball right up and down the field, and that was probably the most discouraging thing," Bonamego said.
"We've been playing with a lot of confidence lately," Ragland said. "Really, every drive before it starts, we're confidence on how its going to end."
There was 13:16 remaining in the final period after Young's second TD, but Miami’s defense turned up the pressure even more once the Chippewas faced a 20-point deficit. Although it didn't score any more points, MU's offense was able to eat clock time. CMU had just two possessions in the final period. One ended in a punt and the other on a fumble.
"They've had some injuries that slowed them down," Martin said. "But we are obviously a way better football team than we were earlier in the year.
"I said when were 0-6 that we were 100 times better than the team that beat UMass (at the end of 2015). It doesn't feel like it when you're 0-6, but we knew we were and we kept getting better. We were better this week than we were at Eastern Michigan (last week).
"No one is flinching. Every one is stepping up," Ragland said. "We're really looking forward to the next two weeks and getting to work Sunday."
Miami will be at Buffalo next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game. Central Michigan hosts Ohio Nov. 15 (7 p.m. ET).