By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- There was a period of time Saturday when a somewhat uneasy feeling hovered over Yager Stadium. The hosting Miami RedHawks held a tenuous lead in the third quarter. Visiting Presbyterian College, an FCS level team, had just scored a touchdown to pull within six points. One year earlier, another FCS team – Eastern Kentucky -- managed to “hang around” on the scoreboard and eventually pulled out a win.
There was no repeat Saturday, however, as Miami cleared the air with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away for a season-opening 26-7 victory.
Senior Drew Kummer tossed two touchdown passes and redshirt freshman Alonzo Smith tallied two rushing scores to lead the offensive effort. Miami’s defense, meanwhile, took advantage of some early turnovers by the Blue Hose, eventually limiting Presbyterian to seven points.
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Not only did both sides have costly penalties, Miami and Presbyterian also hurt their scoring opportunities with some ill-timed turnovers. Miami’s Tony Reid, for example, recovered a Blue Hose fumble and intercepted a pass in the MU endzone to thwart a pair of Presbyterian first half trips deep into the redzone.
Miami got on the scoreboard first, taking advantage of Reid’s fumble recovery to start a five-play, 80-yard drive. Kummer and freshman receiver Chris Hudson paired up to finish the drive off. A pass interference penalty on a toss to Hudson took MU to the 10-yard line, and Kummer hit Hudson across the middle one play later for the score. Kaleb Patterson’s PAT kick gave the hosts a 7-0 lead.
Tamyn Garrick’s 28-yard throw to Daryl Wilson was the big play in Presbyterian’s next drive, which made it to the Miami eight. Reid, however, picked off Garrick’s endzone throw on first-and-goal to end the threat.
Presbyterian repaid the turnover late in the period when it stripped the ball from receiver Sam Martin after a 17-yard gain. Daron Dickey scooped up the loose ball and followed a convoy of blockers 58 yards to the Miami 23. A Miami penalty on the play moved it to the 12.
Miami managed to dodge the bullet again, however, as the defense stiffened. Safety Brison Burris’ tackle on a PC reverse forced a field goal attempt. That line drive boot missed the mark from 27 yards out.
Miami missed its own opportunity to score a few minutes later. Jared Murphy’s catch and run on a 50-yard pass play set the RedHawks up with a first down at the Blue Hose 13. Three running plays later, Kenny Young fumbled at the four-yard line.
MU led 13-0 at halftime and carried the same lead into the severe weather delay. When the teams returned to action a little over 30 minutes later, Presbyterian embarked on an eight-play, 38-yard scoring drive. A Miami pass interference play in the end zone put PC at the two and sophomore Darryl Bridges took it around the right side for a touchdown. The PAT was good, leaving Presbyterian just six points back at 13-7. With 4:04 remaining in the third quarter, there was plenty of time remaining.
The hosts re-seized momentum early in the final period, shaking off a penalty that wiped out a 39-yard punt return by Fred McCrae. Kenny Young burst through the middle for 26-yard gain on the next play and Kummer followed with a 52-yard pass play to Rokeem Williams for the score. A two-point PAT try failed.
After forcing a Blue Hose punt, MU put the outcome away with a six-play, 59-yard scoring drive. All six plays were rushes, with Smith contributing 53 yards. His one-yard TD and Kaleb Patterson kick at 4:04 completed all scoring.
Miami finished the day with 466 total yards, including 205 yards rushing. Smith led the way with 86 yards on 12 carries (7.2 ypc) and two TDs. Young added 59 yards on 10 carries. Kummer was 14-of-19 for 255 passing yards and two TDs. Gus Ragland completed 2-of-3 for seven yards.
Presbyterian netted 318 yards, with 155 coming out of the ground game. Bridges led the way with 125 yards. Garrik, meanwhile, completed 14-of-27 passes for 163 yards with one interception.
Kent Kern led Miami defenders with nine tackles. Paul Moses had seven stops.
Donell Williams registered nine tackles for the visitors.