Versatile Young Lifts RedHawks Past Zips

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Nov. 7, 2017

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OXFORD, Ohio -- Kenny Young's versatile display helped lift the Miami football team to a crucial 24-14 victory over Akron at Yager Stadium on Tuesday night.

Young rushed for 100 yards and gained 98 more along with a touchdown through the air as MU (4-6, 3-3 Mid-American) moved to .500 in conference play and kept its bowl hopes alive.

Miami got a first down on its opening drive, but eventually was forced to punt. Akron (5-5, 4-2 MAC) then drove into plus territory, getting to the MU 14 before stalling. A 31-yard field goal try by Nick Gasser missed wide right to keep the game scoreless at that point.

On its second drive, the RedHawks got off to a promising start with Gus Ragland hitting Ryan Smith for 19 yards and a 12-yard rush by Young moving them into the Zips end of the field before an interception by UA was returned to the MU 35. The RedHawks created a 3rd-and-10, but Kato Nelson connected for a 17-yard pass to convert. Nelson later capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown to put Akron on top 7-0 with under five minute to play in the quarter.

The RedHawks stormed back on the ensuing possession, with a 10-yard rush by Young and an 11-yard scramble by Ragland getting them into plus territory again. Ragland than found Jared Murphy for a 19-yard gain to the Akron 24 and three plays later hit Sam Martin for a 19-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7 after 15 minutes of play.

Miami had a couple promising possessions fizzle out in the second quarter. A 21-yard reception by Smith moved MU into UA territory and it eventually got to the 37 before stalling and punting. On the next possession, Miami got near midfield at its 46 before a Ragland pass was intercepted at the Akron 30.

Following the interception, the Zips got into RedHawk territory at the 42 and faced a 4th-and-2, where the defense forced an incomplete pass to take over with 1:14 left in the half. Miami drove down field thanks to a pass interference penalty and a 17-yard rush by Young to get to the 20. On 3rd-and-10, Ragland appeared to scramble for a first down at the nine, but a replay review ruled him down at the 11, bringing up 4th-and-1. As time expired, Samuel Sloman hit a 28-yard field goal to put the Red and White on top 10-7 at the break.

After the teams traded punts to begin the second half, the RedHawks added to their lead thanks to the versatility of Young, who accounted for 68 of their 72 yards in a touchdown drive. He opened the drive with an eight-yard rush before gaining 23 on a reception to get into Zip territory. Young added a seven-yard rush before capping the drive with a 30-yard touchdown catch to make it 17-7 with 6:45 left in the third quarter.

Miami forced another Akron punt and added some more breathing room to its lead, using its passing attack primarily as Ragland hit James Gardner for 20 yards to get into plus territory on the first play. After hitting Jared Murphy for a five-yard gain on 3rd-and-3, Ragland found Gardner again for a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it a 24-7 ballgame after three quarters.

The RedHawks were a play away from forcing a three-and-out from the Zips as the fourth quarter started with them facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 15. However, Nelson then connected on five-straight passes to open the quarter, converting on a 19-yard pass to T.J. Coney and capping the 85-yard scoring drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tra'Von Chapman to pull to within 24-14 with 13:09 left in regulation.

On the ensuing drive, Miami got to Akron's 25-yard line on a methodical drive, but it stalled on an intentional grounding penalty that forced a punt. The Zips then drove into RedHawk territory where they reached the 37. A sack by Doug Costin bumped UA back six yards and two plays later it faced a 4th-and-10. Nelson's long pass fell incomplete and the RedHawks took over on downs with 4:51 remaining still ahead by two scores.

After Miami was forced to punt after three plays, the MU defense forced three-straight incomplete passes from Nelson and Akron then punted for the final time as the Red and White milked the rest of the clock to pick up the victory.

Young finished with 198 total yards on 23 touches, falling just two yards shy of becoming the first Miami player with 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game. Ragland ended the day 19-of-32 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions. MU held UA to just 273 yards of offense while gaining 420 of its own. The ground game was a big plus for the Red and White as they outrushed the Zips 176-55.

Miami plays its final home game on Nov. 15 when it hosts Eastern Michigan on Senior Night. The official kickoff time will be announced at on Thursday.