RedHawks defense shuts out Zips in 19-0 victory
Offense struggles, but MU posts eighth win
-- BY MIKE SMITH --
OXFORD, OH -- It wasn't pretty, but the Miami RedHawks did what they most needed to do Wedneday night against Akron. They won!
With the victory, Miami (8-2, 5-1 MAC) remained atop the MAC East standings. Akron (2-8, 1-5 MAC) slipped back into the loss column after picking up its first MAC victory last week against Kent State.
Defenses dominated, with neither team reaching 250 yards. Akron, which registered 212 yards of total offense had 14 first downs, while Miami recorded 11 first downs while generating 236 yards.
Offense has been a challenge for MU since losing quarterback Brett Gabbert to a season ending injury in a loss to Toledo. Gabbert was among the league's top passers. His replacement, Aveon Smith, is more of a running threat who can compliment Miami's ground game.
Smith completed 8 of 17 passes against Akron for a . . .
. . . mere 50 yards. He did run 11 times for 42 yards, complimenting MU workhorse Rashad Amos (15 carries, 118 yards, 2 TDs).
MU Head Coach Chuck Martin acknowledged there were a number of things the RedHawks didn't do well against UA. The thing they did do well is the thing that has been a foundation all year -- play solid defense.
This was the second shutout for Miami this year, marking the first time since 1998 that Miami has recorded two shutouts in one year. Akron was able to convert just 2 of 14 third down opportunities and went 0 for 4 on fourth down tries.
Jeff Undercuffler Jr., who passed for three TDs in last week's Wagon Wheel victory over Kent State, had a tough day against MU. The RedHawks intercepted him twice and knocked him out of the game for part of the first half. Tahj Bullock took over until intermission, and Undercuffler returned for the second half. Overall, he completed 20 of 36 for 156 yards.
Bullock completed two of six passes totaling 20 yards and ran eight times for 23 yards. Lorenzo Lingard carried 11 times for 37 yards, but Akron finished with a net of 36 yards rushing due to losses. Miami recorded six sacks and seven TFL's on the evening.
Miami opened the game with its longest drive of the night, marching 75 yards in nine plays. Amons went in from 1-yard out at 9:43.
Punters got a workout after that, but MU finally broke through with a 25-yard Graham Nicholson field goal at 5:01 of the second period. The hosts took a 10-0 lead into intermission.
Each team punted once to open the second half, and they followed that with three straight turnovers-on-downs -- two by UA.
Miami finally broke the stalemate with a five-play, 68-yard drive. Amos got around the corner and raced down the sideline for a 30-yard TD that left Miami in front 19-0. Graham Nicholson's PAT was blocked. It was the first kicking miss (field goal or PAT) for Miami this season.
One drive later, Nicholson came back to convert a 40-yard field goal that closed out scoring.
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.