KALAMAZOO, MICH -- Zach Terrell tossed three touchdown passes, including a pair to Daniel Braverman, as Western Michigan defeated the Miami RedHawks 35-13 Saturday at Waldo Stadium.
With the win Western Michigan bumped its overall record over .500 (4-3) and remained undefeated (3-0) in Mid-American Conference play. Miami fell to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in MAC action.
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The Broncos totaled 142 yards on 47 rushes (3.04 ypc). WMU, however, also has a very capable passing game and entered this weekend ranked second (MAC) in passing efficiency.
Terrell, a junior, completed his first 14 passes and ended the day hitting 25 of 32 throws for 278 yards, three TDs and no interceptions while exploiting a RedHawk defense ranked 10th in pass defense efficiency.
Braverman was the big target, collecting 13 of Terrell's 25 completions. Corey Davis owned seven receptions for 113 yards.
Braverman entered the weekend with a 10.3 rpg average that ranked him third among all FBS teams. He also had nine receiving TDs, which led the MAC and put him fourth nationally.
Western Michigan came within five yards of putting three running backs over 100 yards each against Ohio. None reached the century mark against Miami. Jamauri Bogan led the Broncos ground game with 19 carries for 84 yards and two TDs. Overall, Western Michigan totaled 143 rushing yards.
Miami, meanwhile, managed just 58 net yards rushing after deducting 47 yards of losses. The blitzing Broncos registered four sacks and added several tackles for loss on other RedHawk ballcarriers. Most of the positive yardage came on three plays - an early touchdown run by Gus Ragland, a first half run by Alonzo Smith and a late burst by Maurice Thomas.
True freshman quarterback Billy Bahl, who started and took most of the snaps, completed 13 of 26 for 200 yards with no interceptions. Ragland completed his only pass, good for 18 yards.
Sophomore Sam Martin led Miami receivers with six receptions for 136 yards, including a 60-yard play.
Although the RedHawks, ranked last (MAC) in turnover margin, avoided throwing any interceptions, it looked as if they were in the giving mood early. MU fumbled on two of the first offensive snaps and again on its second kickoff reception. Two of the fumbles fell into teammate arms, but the middle one set up Western Michigan's first score. Asantay Brown burst through a huge hole in the offensive line to hit Bahl in the back. Jamar Simpkins fell on the loose ball at the eight-yard line. Two plays later, Terrell hit Braverman over the middle on a six-yard play.
After dodging another bullet with a fumble on the kickoff, Miami moved 82 yards in six plays for its own touchdown. Bahl hit Martin on an 18-yard pass and Smith rumbled 38 yards to take the RedHawks into Western Michigan territory. Ragland replaced Bahl and hit Ryan Smith for 18 yards before covering trhe final eight stripes on a run off the right side.
After forcing a Bronco punt, MU came back with another scoring drive. Bahl started it with a big 60-yard completion to Martin.
"That quarterback for Miami is going to be a great player," Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck said. "We knew that recruiting him. We took Jon Wassink instead, and Jon’s going to be a heck of a player as well. That kid’s going to be a great player for them. It was a battle of youth but you have to give them credit. They have a great football team and are really well coached. They’ve done a tremendous job of recruiting. Coach Martin has that going in the right direction."
When the Bronco's defense stiffened, Miami settled for a 31-yard Kaleb Patterson field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
Western Michigan grabbed the upper hand again on its next possession, moving 74 yards in 10 plays with Terrell hitting Carrington Thompson on a six-yard strike for the score. Andrew Haldeman's PAT gave the hosts a 13-10 lead.
Miami was driving the ball again on its next possession when rain squalls hit the area and Western Michigan's defense hit the RedHawks. When Leonard Ross was dropped for a three-yard loss on third-and-two, Miami called timeout to choose its course on a fourth-and-five from the WMU 36. It opted for a pass play, but Bahl's throw to Rokeem Williams in the end zone was broken up.
Western Michigan took over with 8:40 remaining and drove 64 yards for another touchdown. WMU and Miami traded five-yard penalties on fourth down just before ran 17 yards off the right side to make it a 21-10 game.
A methodical Western Michigan drive with the opening possession of the third quarter raised the Bronco's advantage to 28-10. Braverman finished the trip with a five-yard reception.
Bahl picked up two first downs with completions as MU moved to the into the Broncos' red zone. A 10-yard sack, however, set up 4th and 18 from the WMU 21. Patterson came on and banked a 38-yard field goal off the right upright with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter. Neither team could score again until Western Michigan added a late TD. Bogan skirted the left side for a three-yard TD with 2:11 left.
"“They came out ready to play and played us really tough. I think we started off fast and then we took our foot off the accelerator for a little bit," Terrell said. "Obviously this is a great win. You can’t minimize getting a win. A win is the end result, the result that we wanted. I’m happy for our guys and the team to get a win.”
"“We competed with a lot more intensity," Martin said of his squad. "We still have some guys who are playing not to lose, but there are a lot of good things we can take out of this game against a good Western Michigan team.”
Miami will be back in action Thursday night when it hosts Buffalo. Western Michigan will be at Eastern Michigan on Thursday.