RedHawks Go Bowling with 21-20 Win Over Ball State

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Nov. 22, 2016

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OXFORD, Ohio -- Facing a 10-point halftime deficit and its season on the line, the Miami University football team used a bundle of big plays on both sides of the ball to top Ball State University, 21-20, Tuesday evening at Yager Stadium.

For the RedHawks (6-6, 6-2 MAC), the victory clinched a share of the Mid-American Conference East Division title and secured postseason eligibility. This is the first time the team has reached both these marks since its MAC championship in 2010. With the six-game winning streak to close the regular season, Miami becomes the first team in FBS history to finish the season at 6-6 following an 0-6 start.

Sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland was 26-of-35 for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdown passes. Senior wide receiver Rokeem Williams hauled in two of those touchdowns, finishing the game with six catches for 145 yards. The Miami offense finished with 442 total yards and held possession for just under 31 minutes.

After stopping Ball State on its first drive, Miami quickly opened up the scoring as Ragland found Williams for a 36-yard touchdown pass, making it 7-0 with 10:26 left in the first quarter.

On its next possession, a targeting penalty by Ball State gave Miami the ball at the 20-yard line, but a series of penalties and sacks led to a 47-yard missed field goal attempt by sophomore kicker Nick Dowd.

The Cardinals soon took advantage of the miss, charging 70 yards in under two minutes for a 25-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Riley Neal to senior wide receiver KeVonn Mabon. The catch was set up by a 40-yard run by sophomore running back James Gilbert.

Ball State continued its momentum into the second quarter as Neal used a gap to run for a 3-yard touchdown, extending the score to 14-7 with at the 12-minute mark. On its next drive, BSU reached the Miami red zone, but Neal's pass was intercepted in the end zone by junior defensive back Heath Harding.

The Miami offense was unable to convert the turnover into points, handing the ball back to Ball State with just over two minutes remaining in the half. The ensuing drive reached the Miami 14-yard line, but an intentional grounding penalty forced a 31-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Morgan Hagee that made the score 17-7 BSU at the half.

Coming out for the second half, the RedHawks were in desperate need of a big play and the offense soon obliged. On the first play from scrimmage, Ragland again found Williams for a 74-yard touchdown pass that narrowed the tally to 17-14 just 12 seconds into the half.

The Cardinals responded with a 13-play sequence that drained over five minutes from the clock, culminating in a 25-yard field goal from Hagee, making the score 20-14 with 9:25 left in the period.

Following a pair of punts, Miami took over six minutes of clock on a 10-play drive, but the sequence stalled at the Ball State 32-yard line. The Miami defense came up huge on the ensuing drive as Harding's powerful hit on 3rd down stopped Ball State near midfield.

Taking over at their own 25-yard line, the RedHawks drove 75 yards down the field in over four minutes, resulting in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Ragland to senior wide receiver Sam Shisso. The score gave Miami its first lead since the first quarter at 21-20 with 5:44 left to play.

On the following play, Mabon returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, but the scoring play was called back on a holding penalty. The Cardinal drive reached midfield, but the RedHawks' defense stuffed a 3rd down rush, forcing a punt that put Miami at its own 15-yard line with 2:42 to play.

Deep in its own territory, Miami steadily drove, resulting in a 50-yard gain by sophomore running back Alonzo Smith, sealing a victory.

The RedHawks will soon find out about their bowl game destination in the coming weeks. Check MiamiRedHawks.com for the official announcement when the game is announced.

Notes

Seniors Collin Buchanan, Sawyer Dean, Jordan Diamond, Austin Gearing, JT Jones, Matt Smallbone, Spencer McInnis, Buchi Okafor, Sam Shisso, TJ Williams, and Rokeem Williams all played their final game in Yager Stadium.

With their comeback win over Ball State, Miami becomes the first team in college football history to begin a season 0-6 and finish it 6-6. Now bowl-eligible, this will be the RedHawks' first bowl appearance since the 2010 season, during which they beat Middle Tennessee State 35-21 in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

Tuesday marked the fourth straight game Miami had scored on their first drive. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland capped the RedHawks' opening drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Rokeem Williams to give Miami an early 7-0 lead.

With a 74-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second half, Williams set a career best for scoring receptions in a game with two.

Ragland smashed his previous career in passing yards of 218, throwing for 380 in the RedHawks' come-from-behind victory. This marks his first career game of over 300 yards passing. His 74-yard strike to Williams in the third quarter was the longest TD pass of his career.

Rokeem Williams hauled in two touchdowns to break his previous career best of one.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Brad Koenig's four assisted tackles marks a career high.

Seniors Collin Buchanan, Sawyer Dean, Jordan Diamond, Austin Gearing, JT Jones, Matt Smallbone, Spencer McInnis, Buchi Okafor, Sam Shisso, TJ Williams, and Rokeem Williams all played their final game in Yager Stadium.

With their comeback win over Ball State, Miami becomes the first team in college football history to begin a season 0-6 and finish it 6-6. Now bowl-eligible, this will be the RedHawks' first bowl appearance since the 2010 season, during which they beat Middle Tennessee State 35-21 in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

Tuesday marked the fourth straight game Miami had scored on their first drive. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland capped the RedHawks' opening drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Rokeem Williams to give Miami an early 7-0 lead.

With a 74-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second half, Williams set a career best for scoring receptions in a game with two.

Ragland smashed his previous career in passing yards of 218, throwing for 380 in the RedHawks' come-from-behind victory. This marks his first career game of over 300 yards passing. His 74-yard strike to Williams in the third quarter was the longest TD pass of his career.

Rokeem Williams hauled in two touchdowns to break his previous career best of one.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Brad Koenig's four assisted tackles marks a career high.