Two extra points separated the RedHawks from overtime at the end of regulation Thursday night – two extra points that coach Mike Haywood chose not to kick.
Down 31-13 in the fourth quarter, Miami University staged a furious rally to take the lead on the arm of redshirt freshman quarterback Zac Dysert. Two failed two-point conversions, however, allowed Temple University to win the game 34-32 on a field goal as time expired.
“We have to finish the game,” Haywood said. “Until we finish the game we’re going to feel the way we feel now, which is not very good.”
Miami entered the fourth quarter with the ball but Temple apparently held the game with an 18-point lead. Thirteen minutes of game clock later, Miami fell victim to the same mirage of security.
The RedHawk rally started with a 74-yard Dysert-led drive in which Miami only attempted one rushing play. Dysert hit freshman tight end Steve Marck for a 24-yard touchdown to finish the possession without any incomplete passes.
After holding the Temple’s dynamic rushing attack to its first three-and-out of the game, Dysert and the Miami fired up another quick scoring drive, ripping down the field in 2:22 for six points. Once Armand Robinson took Dysert’s 14-yard pass into the endzone, Haywood looked at the 31-26 score and decided to attempt a two-point conversion. A successful play would bring the ’Hawks within a field goal of tying the game, but with nearly nine minutes still showing on the clock, Temple still had plenty of time to score themselves.
Scoring, however, proved much harder for the Owls in the final frame than in the opening three quarters. The Miami D dialed up a second consecutive three-and-out. Temple’s run game, which racked up 175 yards and four touchdowns through 45 minutes of play, was suddenly grounded.
With the ball quickly back in their possession, the ’Hawks served up yet another helping of Dysert. The gunslinger finished with 31 completions on 51 attempts including a 45-yard strike to freshman receiver Luke Swift on Miami’s go-ahead final drive. Thomas Merrieweather rammed home the touchdown from two yards out to give the RedHawks a 32-31 lead with 2:36 remaining in regulation. Haywood’s second call to go for two, this time to put his team up by a field goal, failed once again.
“It looked like we were moving away with it, but they’re on scholarship just like we are,” Temple head coach Al Golden said of his team’s lost 18-point lead. “We didn’t put them away. In college football, that’s what happens. Kids fight back.”
Fight back is exactly what Temple did. Despite the quickly waning clock, the Owls continued to pound away on the ground, banging out big gains of 18 and 11 yards on each end of a 31 yard pass and catch. A timeout with six ticks left on the clock then set up a chip-shot field goal for the win.
“You never let your emotions take over because it’s a sixty minute game, thirty-six hundred seconds and it’s not over until the last second ticks off the clock,” Haywood said. “I think our guys really played hard and physical. The key things that we talked about were stopping the run and the play-action pass and those two things came back to haunt us in the fourth quarter.”
Temple finished with 224 net rushing yards in the game for four scores. Miami’s rush defense ranks 100th in the country as RedHawk opponents average 185 rushing yards per game.
For the second consecutive game, Dysert attempted 51 passes and completed 31. He tallied 426 yards through the air, the fourth highest passing total ever by a Miami quarterback.
The RedHawks now return home for two final games in Yager Stadium this season. Both will be played on weeknights against MAC opponents. Bowling Green State University comes to Oxford Thursday night for a 6 p.m. kickoff followed by the University at Buffalo on the following Wednesday night.