Battle of the Bricks goes to Bobcats
MU's Gabbert, Hippenhammer connect on three TDs
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH - It was another "Battle of the Bricks" Tuesday at Yager Stadium, and in the end Ohio (5-1 MAC, 7-3 overall) walked away with another brick for its road to a possible MAC East title.
The Bobcats' potent offense rolled up 557 yards and controlled the ball for 41:20, eventually wearing down Miami's defense on the way to a 37-21 victory. It was a 7-7 game before Ohio kicked a field goal to close the first half. When the teams returned, Ohio's offense went into another gear. The Bobcats scored touchdowns on three straight possessions and put points on the scoreboard with every second half drive.
"I felt like we were in pretty good shape since they kind of out-played us (in the first half) and they were only up 10-7. Our offense really hadn't got untracked (yet), Miami Head Coach Chuck Martin said. In the second half, however, "OU's offense dominated our defense."
THIRD DOWN ISSUES
Miami (2-4 MAC, 4-6 overall) managed two second half scores, but it could not keep up with the visitors. Enjoying success both on the ground (194 yards) and through the air (363 yards), Ohio converted 10-of-16 third down conversion opportunities. Meanwhile, Miami went 1-of-7 on third down and 0-for-2 in fourth down conversion tries.
"When we have a chance to get off the field, we don't; When we've got a chance to stay on the field, we don't," Martin said. "Obviously, we've got to be better on third down."
As has been the case in recent weeks, Miami struggled with its ground game. The RedHawks totaled 69 yards on 21 carries (3.3 ypc). Keyon Mozee led the way with six trips for 27 yards.
GABBERT TO HIPPENHAMMER
All three Miami touchdowns came on passes, and all three went from junior quarterback Brett Gabbert to wideout Mac Hippenhammer. Gabbert completed 20-of-26 attempts on the night. Hippenhammer registered eight catches for 107 yards.
Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke also tossed three TDs among his 25 completions (on 35 attempts) for 363 yards. Miles Cross and James Bostic combined for 11 catches and 216 yards. Jacoby Jones had two TDs among his four catches. Freshman running back Sieh Bangura contributed two scores -- one on the ground and another with a 13-yard reception. The 20 carries for 145 (7.3 ypc) marked his first time over the century mark since Week One against Florida Atlantic. Overall, Ohio totaled 194 yards rushing.
"I think they had negative yards rushing at halftime, and then they ran the ball really, really well (in the second half)," Martin said.
LOW SCORING FIRST HALF
Ohio opened scoring with a 1-yard Bangura run at 5:46 of the first quarter. Miami evened the contest when Gabbert hit Hippenhammer with a 5-yard pass early in the second period. It stayed 7-7 until Nathanial Bakos booted a 25-yard field goal as time expired.
ROURKE GETS HOT
Rourke found Bangura for a score midway through the third stanza, but MU matched it with a 37-yard pass to Hippenhammer.
Two Rourke TD passes to Jones (48 and 10 yards) expanded the visitors lead to 31-14 early in the fourth quarter. Although MU scored a final touchdown, Ohio added two more field goals for the final margin.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.