Reaction to MACtion: Football fights from behind in pt. 2 of MAC East title game

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

After beating Miami by one point for the Mid-American Conference East title last season, the RedHawks got their revenge Saturday.

Miami defeated Kent State 27-24 in Oxford. The Flashes did not have a lead the entire game despite having 415 total yards of offense.

“We have to do a better job putting ourselves in a position to be successful,” coach Sean Lewis said. “We have to prepare our kids so that we can be successful and start fast. The kids responded in various spots so that we could continue to have a fight and have a chance in the end.”

The Flashes fall to 2-4 on the year and 1-1 in the MAC. Miami improves to 3-3 on the year and 1-1 in the MAC.

KSU’s redshirt junior quarterback Collin Schlee was slightly limping the whole game. Schlee completed just 53.6 percent of his passes going 15/28 for 158 yard and a touchdown.

Lewis did not address any possible injury.

“He is a resilient kid that embodies our core beliefs as a team,” Lewis said. “One of those is toughness. No matter what he is going through, he is going to go harder, longer than anyone else. That is what we want to exude as a program.”

In the second drive of the game, Miami blocked Kent State’s field goal. Two drives later, the RedHawks recovered a fumble after graduate student wide receiver Raymond James dropped the punt.

This brought Miami to Kent State’s 31-yard line. The team scored with a field goal.

After a three and out by Kent State, the RedHawks opened up their drive with a 76-yard pass, putting them at the 2-yard line. The very next play, redshirt junior running back Tyre Shelton ran it in for a touchdown for a RedHawk 10-0 lead.

Miami utilized the run game on the next drive after Kent State went three and out again. Miami had two runs for over 10 yards and then scored on a 41-yard touchdown run. The RedHawks led 17-0 by the end of the first quarter.

Lewis took the blame.

“Obviously we didn’t do enough as a staff, myself first and foremost, to get to where they are going to get out to a 17-0 start,” he said.

KSU’s defense came up with its first and only interception of the night at 9:37 in the second quarter. Kent State capitalized off the turnover with a 27-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore Devontez Walker. This put the Flashes on the board 17-7.

The MAC’s top rushing defense shut down KSU’s junior running back Marquez Cooper, who only rushed for 17 yards in the first half. Cooper just last game rushed for 240 yards and two touchdowns.

“They did a really good job of equating numbers in the box and getting an extra hat into the box,” Lewis said. “Our kids battled and fought hard. We got some tough runs and yards when we needed it.”

The Flashes started off the second half with a three and out. Miami capitalized on the drive with a 41-yard pass putting the team at the 3-yard line. Shelton ran in his second touchdown, extending the team’s lead 24-7.

On third and 20 – still limping – Schlee ran for 20 yards on a scramble to pick up the first down. Two plays later, Walker came up with his second touchdown of the game on a 23-yard reception. Miami responded with a field goal on the next drive.

The next drive, KSU brought the lead to within one score after a 10-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior Dante Cephas. Kent State still trailed 27-21.

KSU forced the RedHawks to punt on their next drive.

The Flashes scored a field goal on their next drive. A 43-yard pass to Walker set the team up at Miami’s 39, but they were unable to score a touchdown. Kent State then trailed by only three, 27-24.

“It was a game that we knew we were going to have to throw it,” Lewis said. “We have to be more consistent playing pitch and catch.”

On the final drive of the game on fourth and sixth, the RedHawks ran out the clock since Kent State had used all its timeouts.

“It was a 45-yard field goal into the wind, and he did a great of a misdirection play,” Lewis said. “It’s an aggressive call, and I know coach [Chuck] Martin is an aggressive play caller. He called it to win it, and it is a good job by him and his kids.”

Schlee finished with 306 passing yards and three touchdowns. Kent State had two receivers with over 100 yards. Walker had 159 passing yards and two touchdowns. Cephas totaled 118 receiving yards and a touchdown.

“Those kids work really hard,” Lewis said. “All the individual stats are great, but it’s a team sport, and the team came up short. We have to find a way to come back and get better as a team and put our blinders on.”

Miami’s ninth-ranked run defense in the country held junior running back Marquez Cooper to just 34 rushing yards in the game. The RedHawks gave up just 109 rushing yards total in the game. They had three different rushers rushing over 50 yards.

The Flashes gave up 236 rushing yards. Miami’s redshirt freshman quarterback Aveon Smith threw for just 179 yards and one interception. He was the second-leading rusher on the team this game with 71 rushing yards.

“[We] did a good job for the majority, but unfortunately that 70-yard play counts,” Lewis said. “So, we have to do a great job as a staff making sure the intensity and the focus throughout play after play is there.”

Kent State travels to Toledo at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We pride ourselves on finishing strong and starting fast,” Lewis said. “There are lots of areas where we need to improve in both as we continue to move forward.”

Jacob Hansen is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]