Smith tosses 3 TDs as RedHawks defeat RMU
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- Freshman Aveon Smith completed 14-of-21 passes totaling 155 yards with three TDs and one interception in his first start to lead Miami (1-1) past Robert Morris (0-2) 31-14 Saturday at Yager Stadium.
Junior quarterback Brett Gabbert was hurt at Kentucky in Week One action and is out indefinitely. While he acknowledged the RedHawks will necessarily be a "different" team behind a different quarterback, Miami head coach Chuck Martin said Smith showed MU can still play winning football.
"The biggest positive . . .
. . . is A-V (Smith) just looked confident," Chuck Martin said. "It was a great first start for him. ... He did some really good things mentally. ... Anything we didn't do well tonight didn't have anything to do with Brett Gabbert (not playing)."
Asked about players stepping up, Martin said, "It can't be one guy that tries to do that. ... (If you think) "I've got to do the supernatural,' then you get out of your game and start playing bad. You can't play football that way."
Offensively, MU rode its run game and picked its spots to pass. A stable of RedHawk running backs combined for 42 carries, 216 yards (5.1 ypc) and one score.
Miami’s defense also pitched in with a solid effort after giving up an early big play and subsequent score. Robert Morris, an FCS team associated with the Big South Conference in football, finished the night with 219 yards of total offense. A mere 40 of that came on the ground as the Colonials averaged just 1.5 yards per rush. Miami defenders also forced two turnovers -- both interceptions.
A blip on MU’s defensive radar was a 79-yard pass from Anthony Chiccitt to Dylan Smith, who got behind the Miami defense and raced to MU’s 1-yard line.
Anthony Purge subsequently scored on a short run for RMU’s only touchdown until the game’s final minute. The latter score was set up by a punt return fumble.
The RedHawks had three turnovers on the night. Two were fumbles, and MU dodged any damage on its first fumble shortly after RMU’s early score. Jayson Jenkins missed a 46-yard try, and Miami drove back down the field to quickly retake the lead. Smith hit Luke Bolden over the middle for 17 yards and the score to finish the journey.
The RedHawks went up 17-7 at 12:37 of the second quarter when Smith found Mac Hippenhammer for a 22-yard TD. Hippenhammer and Nate Muersch led Miami with four catches each and a combined 107 yards.
Keyon Mozee put Miami up 24-7 with 2:29 to go before intermission, and neither team scored in the third period. MU’s final touchdown came at 9:47 of the final period when Smith hit Hippenhammer once more - this time from 18 yards out.
"For game one, I thought he really went after it good," Martin said of Smith. "There are still more things we've got to learn about him, because there's going to be more stuff down the road coming that is going to be more challenging."
The RedHawks face area rival Cincinnati next week and travel to Northwestern after that."
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.