Miami (OH) uses late touchdown to beat Kent State

Henry Palattella

Miami University (OH) (1-6, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) came into Saturday’s game winless and ranked dead last in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Saturday was a different story for the RedHawks, as they used a late touchdown pass to beat Kent State (2-5, 1-2 MAC) 18-14.

“(This) was a very disappointing loss,” Kent State head coach Paul Haynes said after the game. “We had chances to put it away and we didn’t. Give (Miami) some credit: they kept on fighting and made a couple plays at the end.”

The RedHawks took the lead when sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to sophomore running back Kenny Young to give the RedHawks the lead. Ragland — who tore his ACL during spring practices — threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns in his first start of the year.

“It was awesome,” Ragland said in regards to the game-winning drive, per the Dayton Daily News. “We knew we were getting the ball back. You could feel it in the huddle. You could feel it coming.”

Ragland started practicing on Tuesday, and wasn’t listed on the Miami depth chart coming into Saturday’s game. Sophomore Billy Bahl — who was the RedHawks starting quarterback at the beginning of the season — suffered an injury two weeks that has kept him out of commission since.

Injuries plagued the Flashes sideline as well, with the biggest injury occurring to starting quarterback junior Nick Holley, who left late in the fourth quarter after sustaining a head injury. Holley ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 91 yards and an interception before leaving. The interception was Holley’s first turnover under center.

“He’s hurt,” Haynes said after the game. “He was running the ball down the sideline and got hit in the head.”

Haynes elected to send sophomore running back Myles Washington out behind center for the Flashes next drive.

“He’s our backup quarterback,” Haynes said of Washington. “We’ve been working that ever since the Alabama game.”

The RedHawks scored on the ensuing drive, which led to the Flashes getting the ball with 1:34 left. Sophomore quarterback George Bollas came out to lead the Flashes on a game-winning drive, but he threw an interception, which clinched the win for the Redhawks.

The Flashes opened up the scoring late in the second quarter when Holley rushed into the end zone from two yards out to make it 7-0 Flashes. Miami got on the scoreboard at the end of the first half when kicker Nick Dowd knocked in a 37-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at the half.

Holley made his second stop in the end zone when he took a quarterback run 21 yards into the end zone to give the Flashes a 14-3 lead. The RedHawks answered on the ensuing drive when they went on an eight play, 80-yard drive that ended when Ragland found sophomore running back Alonzo Smith from 15 yards out to cut the Kent State lead to 14-10.

The RedHawks had 95 total yards on offense before they went on that drive. The RedHawks cut into the cut lead later in the third quarter when Kent State junior offensive lineman Nathan Puthoff snapped the ball out of the end zone for a Redhawks safety.

“Bad snap,” Haynes said. “Bad timing.”

Both teams alternated punts before the RedHawks went on their game-clinching drive.

True freshman running back Justin Rankin did not play due to an injury, so freshman running back Will Matthews got his first career start as running back. He rushed for 47 yards and led the team in receiving with 48 yards.

If the Flashes would have beaten the RedHawks they would have been in a three-way tie for the MAC East with The University of Akron and Ohio. Instead, the Flashes are tied with Miami for third. The Flashes play Ohio next Saturday at Dix Stadium. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Henry Palattella is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]