Miami records record-setting loss

November 19, 2009

The Bull's quite literally ran away with the game Wednesday. In a figurative sense, so did Miami's season. The 11th loss set a school record for most in one year.

Mike Haywood has a long Christmas list this year. After losing the season finale to the University at Buffalo 42-17, the first-year head coach knows his one-win RedHawks need a lot of work this offseason.

With 12 recruits already signed as of Wednesday night, Miami University holds seven more football scholarships to give. Haywood already knows exactly how he wants to fill those slots.

While assessing team needs, Haywood said he is looking for improved speed and strength. On the defensive line he wants a pass-rushing end and a run-stopping tackle. To address the need for speed, he wants to bring in a fast running back to compliment his many inside rushers, a tight end that can stretch the field vertically and athletic quarterback.

Haywood also plans to improve the conditioning of his current players.

“If you watch our wide receivers and running backs, when we go up and hit them, (the other team) is always falling forward,” Haywood said. “We have a lack of upper body strength as a team. We have to increase that upper body strength and we also have to get bigger and faster.”

Santa will be surprised when he sees how much Haywood is asking for this offseason. Let's hope the first-year head coach has been extra nice.

The list doesn’t end there. Haywood also said he plans to implement a fullback position into his offense in addition to improving the kicking and punting units and the redzone offense. The offensive line will see some serious work as well.

“Our offensive line would much rather pass protect than run block,” Haywood said. “During the offseason we’re going to change that mentality. They’re going to realize that we’re going to run the ball first.”

The RedHawks may look to run first next season but that was not the case against Buffalo. Miami quarterbacks attempted a season-high 57 passes Wednesday.

Senior receiver Brayden Coombs took full advantage by hauling in a school-record 14 passes for 100 yards in his last game as a RedHawk. With Miami’s receiving corps suffering relentless injuries all season long, Coombs, who switched to the WR position just two seasons ago, filled in nicely.

“Braydon was so far down in the depth chart when we first got here,” Haywood said. “He kept fighting and kept fighting and next thing you know he became the starter.”

The RedHawk rushing attack did little on the few plays Dysert and Raudabaugh didn’t drop back. Miami running backs carried the ball 12 times for a total of 53 yards.

Buffalo, on the other hand, dominated its ground game. Two UB ball carriers averaged more than 10 yards per rush as the Bulls racked up 240 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on the night. Once the running backs got going, quarterback Zach Maynard joined in on the fun as the Bulls often utilized play-action QB sneaks to confuse the RedHawk defense. His speed proved more than Miami could handle.

“We don’t have anybody on the field that can catch him because he was that athletic and that fast,” Haywood said.

While Buffalo controlled the scoreboard, it did not dominate all of the statistics. Miami finished with more first downs and time of possession than its opponent for the eighth time this season. The Achilles heel was an anemic redzone offense. Four times Miami drove inside the Buffalo 20-yard line without producing a score. On three of those trips the ’Hawks failed to register any points at all.

“People that are kicking field goals in the redzone end up losing football games,” Haywood said.

The loss brings Haywood’s first season as a head coach to a frustrating close. While his version of the team finished with less wins than last year’s, however, both he and his players believe that the foundation for future success has been laid. Haywood spent much of his time addressing issues off the field. With many of those problems eradicated he now feels the team is in a position to move forward.

“We had a lot of adversity early – primarily the way guys were living their lives off the field,” Haywood said. “We’ve cleaned up that aspect of our program and we’re now headed in the right direction. I can spend more time coaching on the field instead of handling the problems within a first-year organization.”

Haywood knows that the only secret to success is earning it through hard work, and that is one thing he can promise will never be lacking on this team. The players experienced plenty of growing pains this season as they adjusted to a completely new system. While they admit it was hard, they also admit it was necessary.

“When Haywood came here, I don’t think a lot of people realized the challenge he stepped in to,” senior captain Dustin Woods said. “We needed a change and knowing that Haywood could make a difference – that was all that mattered for the program.”

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RedHawks complete amazing 4th-quarter comeback… and then lose

November 10, 2009
Temple fg

WIth a different set of coaching decisions, Temple's game-winning field goal would have been a game-tying field goal instead

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.”

Temple stiff arm

Temple's dynamic run game and Miami's inability to stop it denied the Hawks a chance to win back-to-back games

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.


RedHawks bag first win for one happy Halloween

November 3, 2009

merriweather2

Spooky things happen on Halloween. The holiday’s latest trick rendered a team of Rockets powerless and treated coach Mike Haywood to his first career victory as head of the Miami University football team.

On its last possession of the game, seven points, eight minutes and 99 yards separated the University of Toledo from overtime. After trailing by 17 at halftime, the Rockets needed one last blast to complete their comeback.

Behind a punishing ground game and an aggressive air attack, Toledo deliberately drove down the field. After failing to convert a third down attempt all afternoon, the Rockets cashed in on three to keep the ball in their possession and moving closer to the Miami end zone. And with every snap, time continued to trickle off the clock.

With 67 seconds left in the game, Toledo’s first-year head coach Tim Beckman called a timeout. The tying touchdown play was in the works and the Miami faithful few knew it. When tight end Danny Noble caught the ball and plodded toward the pylon, it only confirmed what had already been deemed a certainty.

As the line judge signaled the score, Haywood began discussing the overtime game plan with offensive coordinator Peter Vaas. The booth review of the play seemed to be mere formality. Not even Anthony Kokal, who made the goal-line tackle, held much hope. Noble either scored or was pushed out at the one-yard line, right? Wrong.

Upon review, the referee discovered that before Noble entered the end zone Kokal forced him to fumble the football, which hit the pylon as it fell to the ground. By rule, this resulted in a touchback and turned possession over to Miami on the 20-yard line.

“Touchback sounded a lot like touchdown so I wasn’t sure at first,” Kokal said. “A couple guys started coming up and hugging me and then I realized he actually did say touchback.”

To expire the remaining minute of play and seal its first victory of the season, Miami needed just three rushes and a kneel down. The win snapped a school-record 13-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 18, 2008.

weswilliams

Freshman Wes Williams fired the Hawks up early with his pick-6 to put MU up seven.

“This is huge,” kicker Trevor Cook said. “It’s been spiraling and I feel like so many times we’ve been so close. Last week we were so close, against Northwestern we were so close. Kent State too. Now we have the confidence that we needed to drive forward with the new coaching staff.”

Yager Stadium quickly became a house of horrors for Toledo when freshman linebacker Wes Williams returned his first career interception for a touchdown just four minutes into the game. The Rockets tied the contest to end the first quarter but then succeeded 17 points to Miami in the second frame. Cook ended the half with a 55-yard field goal, the longest three-pointer in MU history.

The offensive outburst hinged on the arm of redshirt freshman quarterback Zac Dysert, who threw for 344 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Haywood has preached smash-mouth football all season but changed his game plan a mere 17 and a half hours before Saturday’s game. At 10 o’clock Friday night he decided to switch to a pass-first offense and deemphasize a ground game that has proved futile for most of the season. As a result of the change he became aware of Saturday morning, Dysert threw 51 passes against the Rockets.

“Coach Vass came in (to the morning pre-game meeting) and he had 17-0 written on the board,” Dysert said. ”We all had no idea what it was. He said ‘game plan has changed fellas. We’re going to go into this game thinking we are down 17.’”

An unforeseen consequence of the change was vast improvement from the running backs with a suddenly lighter load. Thomas Merriweather, Miami’s only ball carrier other than a scrambling Dysert, averaged 5.5 yards on eight total carries. He still finished with 34 fewer rushing yards than his signal caller, who carried the ball 13 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

After holding a potent Rocket offense to just seven points in the first half, the Miami defense allowed Toledo to score 17 points of its own in the third quarter. The Rockets torched the RedHawks for 397 total yards of offense in the second half including 138 yards on the ground.

“The message at half time was that we need to play this game as if it’s a 30-minute game and it’s zero to zero,” Haywood said. “We didn’t play as well as I would have liked coming back out after half time but we played well enough to win.”

Miami overcame two of its vices during Saturday’s win. The RedHawks lead the MAC with 27 turnovers and owns a league worst -18 turnover margin but only lost the ball once against Toledo. Miami’s grounded rushing attack also took off to produce 92 yards and two touchdowns.

“I talked to (the team) in the locker room after the game about stopping the spiral,” Haywood said. “It’s like life. Sometimes things are going bad for you in life and it’s like a spiral. You have to find a way to stop it. This is a life lesson. They found a way to stop it. So now it’s time for us to propel off of that and move forward and start playing consistent football.”

Three games remain on Miami’s 2009 schedule. The RedHawks play Temple University on the road before finishing the season with two televised weeknight home games.

“(Brayden) Coombs came up to me after the game and said ‘coach, congratulations on your first win but we’ve got to win the next three to send this out the right way,’” Haywood said.

For a team that now stands 1-8 on the season, that would be quite the trick and treat.


RedHawks grounded in Athens

October 19, 2009
The Bobcats, not the RedHawks, flew high Saturday in Athens

The Bobcats, not the RedHawks, flew high Saturday in Athens

Playing in a small Ohio town named after the finish site of the fabled first marathon, the Bobcats ran all over their visiting conference rivals. The RedHawks, on the other hand, struggled to run anywhere.

Ohio University ripped off 226 rushing yards while only allowing 52 en route to a 28-7 victory over Miami University and their first 3-0 start in MAC play since 1997. The win gave OU its fourth consecutive triumph against the RedHawks and its largest margin of victory over MU since 1960.

“It was a total team loss,” head coach Mike Haywood said. “We didn’t play very well on offense, defense or special teams.”

Miami silenced Ohio’s homecoming crowd early with a 10-play opening drive for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback Zac Dysert orchestrated the attack with 71 yards on four completed passed, then carried the ball into the end zone himself on a one-yard touchdown run.

The score gave Miami a lead for only the second time all season. Against Kent State University the RedHawks held their margin for a fleeting 11 seconds. This time it took nine minutes for the lead to evaporate.

“I think we kind of lost our intensity a little bit,” Dysert said. “We came out real fired up and real energetic. We went down and scored and believed we could do that stuff all day. Then we got stopped and it took something out of us, I don’t know why.”

This sophomore back, who didn't even appear on OUs pregame two-deep depthc hard, gave Miami Donte's inferno with his Harden running

This sophomore back, who didn't even appear on OUs pregame two-deep depthc hard, gave Miami Donte's inferno with his Harden running

After Ohio’s initial drive of the game failed with pass-heavy play calling, Bobcat running back Donte Harden broke off consecutive rushes of 41 and 33 yards to jump start his team’s second possession. Two Miami penalties and two more Harden runs carried OU to its first of four scores.

Harden finished the game with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. He split carries with L.J. Flintall who racked up 54 yards of his own and thus out gained Miami’s entire ground game by himself as Ohio’s secondary rusher.

“I was definitely surprised how well they were able to run the football,” Haywood said. “It really caught me off guard. We tried to do a few things at halftime to slow down the run but we are going to have to go back and look at the film to re-evaluate some of the things we are doing on defense.”

Haywood may also need to re-evaluate some of the things they are doing on offense. In particular, the run game continues to be grounded. Miami ranks 110 in the country with 88.3 rushing yards gained per game and 112 in the country with 2.8 yards per carry. These stats are actually inflated, as they include scrambles by Dysert.

Without and effective rushing attack, Miami’s offense becomes one-dimensional and extremely predictable. The RedHawk passing game faces many problems of its own, however, especially in the form of injuries. Miami lost wide out Eugene Harris III to a hamstring ailment and the timetable for his return is unknown. This leaves the RedHawks without three of its top receivers as Chris Givens sits out for the season and Dustin Woods continues to miss time with a hamstring injury of his own.

“It’s a makeshift group (of wide receivers) out there,” Haywood said. “You never know who’s going to be out there. I have to look up sometimes when the substitutions are going in.”

Saturday’s loss closed out a seven game stretch in which the RedHawks played six road games. The team now enters the home stretch of the season and will play four of its last five games in Oxford. Miami’s homecoming begins Saturday against Northern Illinois University. While linebacker Jerrell Wedge says the team is amped up for its return home, Haywood does not believe location alone affects performance on the field.

“We’re excited about playing at home but playing at home has nothing to do with the way we’ve played on the road,” Haywood said. “We have to become a better football team and that’s individual from the head coach down to the assistant coaches down to each individual player.”


Bearcats survive RedHawk scare

October 6, 2009
UC trails in the overall series but clearly holds the upper hand now

UC trails in the overall series but clearly holds the upper hand now

Three yards separated the RedHawks from contention. The No. 10 nationally ranked Bearcats, who once owned a 20-0 lead, were on the ropes.

Down by three scores, Miami University used two pass-powered drives to vault within 10 points of its 114-year archrival. Then, with momentum surging in his team’s favor, head coach Mike Haywood caught everyone by surprise.

No one saw the onside kick coming. The record crowd didn’t expect it. Brian Kelly, the pride and coach of Cincinnati didn’t expect it. The UC special teams unit, who initially turned its back on the bouncing ball, certainly didn’t expect it.

Blindsided, the Bearcats gave the ball back to Miami. Moments later, the RedHawks stood on the doorstep of resurgence.

“In a rivalry game you’re going to get someone’s best shot,” Kelly said. “We got Miami’s best today.”

From the three-yard line in enemy territory, redshirt freshman Zac Dysert dropped back to pass. Just after locating an open receiver and beginning his throwing motion, however, Miami’s opportunity slipped away. Dysert lost his footing and vastly under threw his target. Instead he hit JK Schaffer of the Cincinnati Bearcats.

“When he threw the pick,” Haywood said, “the first thing I did was run up to him and say ‘just relax. It’s not life or death right now. We can comeback and still have an opportunity to win this game.’”

Despite Haywood’s reassurance, Miami chance had been thrown away. Cincinnati allowed the ’Hawks back into its territory only one more time for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, the Bearcat offense scored two more touchdowns of its own. The game ended in a lopsided 37-13 decision, one that both coached admitted did not adequately represent the efforts on the field.

“Today was not our A game,” Kelly, who was not pleased with the performance of his star quarterback or his team’s execution of numerous plays, said. “We still won by 24 and it wasn’t (Tony Pike’s) best. I’ll take that.”

Haywood, on the other hand, believes this game illustrates the significant progress his team has already made in just five games. Nevertheless, he refuses to celebrate a loss.

“The guys are playing hard, competing and getting better but not playing well enough to play winning football at this point in time,” Haywood said. “I think we are making progress but I don’t think there are any moral victories.”

After running wild at Kent State, Dysert was bottled up by a UC defense that recorded 10 sacks of the redshirt freshman

After running wild at Kent State, Dysert was bottled up by a UC defense that recorded 10 sacks of the redshirt freshman

Dysert finished the game with 286 yards and a touchdown on 33 completions. His two interceptions inside the UC 30-yard line proved costly, however, and left an ugly mark on an otherwise beautiful performance. After ripping off 107 rushing yards against Kent State University in his first career start, the redshirt freshman was sacked 10 times to finish with negative yards on the ground.

“We sometimes forget that this is only his second start of his collegiate career,” Haywood said. “He has a long ways to go but I think he’s progressing on the right path.

Pike, who vaulted himself into Heisman Trophy conversations with his impressive start to the season, did not look like the nation’s top player against the RedHawks. He completed just over 50 percent of his passes and s held under 300 yards.

“He didn’t make a couple of throws that he normally makes,” Kelly said. “I think he’s human.”

On the ground, Miami struggled. The Bearcats held the RedHawks to just 30 rushing yards on 35 carries. This team has battled a stagnant ground game all season; excluding quarterback scrambles, the ’Hawks total only 290 rushing yards through five games in 2009.

To combat the rushing ineptness, Haywood often used swing passes to the running back out of the backfield. Starter Andre Bratton caught 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown, all three of which are career highs for the senior.

“Just being out there with my team battling for the bell is a great feeling,” Bratton said. “I had to do it one last time in my senior year and just give it my all.”

Saturday’s attendance reached 23,493 fans, a record crowd for Yager Stadium since its remodeling and lowered capacity in 2004 and Miami’s largest home crowd since 2003. After playing four games away from Oxford to start the season, Miami now heads back on the road for two more away games. Up next is a noon meeting with Big Ten opponent Northwestern University. Haywood doesn’t want his team to hope for a win. Instead, he wants them to believe in one.

“Some people hope. When you hope to win that’s only a50-50 chance,” Haywood said. “You have to believe to win. We talk about having faith, trust, belief and commitment to yourself and to this organization.”


KSU Recap: RedHawks rain turnovers, spoil Dysert’s delicious debut

September 28, 2009

turnover

On a night flooded by consistent downpour, it was the RedHawks and not the weather that made a sloppy mess on the field.

Despite dominating every offensive statistic in the game, the Miami University football team turned over a golden chance to win for the first time in 2009. The RedHawks gave the ball away five times Saturday night, bringing their turnover total to 10 in the last two games and 14 in the last three games.

“I feel like we earned a win because we didn’t turn the ball over,” Kent State University head coach Doug Martin said when asked if he felt like his team stole a win from Miami. “Turnover margin is the number one dictator of who wins and loses.”

The RedHawks out gained the Golden Flashes by 302 yards. The RedHawks doubled the Golden Flashes in total first downs. In the end, however, the RedHawks lost to the Golden Flashes 29-19 because they couldn’t hold onto the ball.

“We practice in the rain when we’re in Oxford. Rain has no effect (on turnovers),” Miami head coach Mike Haywood said. “All you have to do is protect the football with five pressure points, roll your shoulder over the top and you’ll protect it.”

Miami's pile of turnovers is piled high this season

Miami's pile of turnovers is piled high this season

With the win Kent State beat Miami in consecutive seasons for the first time in 21 years. The ’Hawks hold a 44-13 series record against the Golden Flashes but have now dropped three of their last four meetings.

With less than 10 minutes remaining on the game clock, the Miami offense faced a third and long from its own 26-yard line. Dropping back and rolling to his right, red-shirt freshman Zac Dysert, making his first collegiate career start, was caught. The sack would give Miami its first three and out since the opening drive of the half and leave the ’Hawks with a 10-point deficit as time ticked away.

But as two Kent State defenders converged onto the thrower, Dysert ran away. In a golden flash he was gone, cutting downfield for a 13-yard gain and another Miami… first down.

“That’s frustrating when we’ve got coverage and we miss tackles after we have him bottled up,” KSU linebacker Cobrani Mixon said. “I think we just under estimated him. He’s kind of quick.”

Three plays later Dysert kept the drive alive again, spinning away from a KSU linebacker who was left sprawling on the turf. Another double-digit gain; another Miami… first down.

Dysert wasn’t done either. Twice more, once with his arm and then again with his legs, the freshman converted for the RedHawks. Dysert’s sweet performance led to a Miami field goal to bring the ’Hawks within seven points and hungry for more.

“One of the most important things that we learned is that they don’t quit.” Haywood said. “Guys keep competing.”

Back within one score of the Flashes, the RedHawk defense failed to hold. Kent State sustained a nine-play, four-minute drive for three points to seal the game. Sophomore Jacquise Terry, a wide receiver converted to running back, carried the ball on every down except for the final two. Freshman kicker Freddy Cortez, who missed his only two field goal attempts prior to Saturday, booted the final score.

Dysert finished the night with 337 passing yards on 31 completions and 119 rushing yards on 17 carries. He closed the first half with a touchdown pass after leading a clutch two-minute drill covering 78 yards. While several of Dysert’s tantalizing runs came by design, he admitted most resulted from improv on broken plays.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Martin said. “They found something tonight. He adds an element to their offense that they didn’t have with Raudabaugh.

Kent State quarterbacks, on the other hand, only attempted 11 passes all night. Instead, the Golden Flashes generated points off of excellent field position resulting from turnovers and special teams. In addition to five Miami giveaways, Kent State blocked a punt and returned a kick off for a touchdown. Five KSU drives began in MU territory and two others began just short of mid-field.

After dropping to 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in MAC play, the RedHawks now prepare for the Battle for the Victory Bell Saturday against the University of Cincinnati. The Bearcats will enter Yager Stadium as the only top 10 opponent to ever play in Oxford. Saturday’s contest is Miami’s only game in Yager during its opening seven games.


WMU Recap: You can put it on the board… YES!

September 21, 2009
Don't be fooled by Miami's first score. The Broncos still trampled the RedHawks with ease.

Don't be fooled by Miami's first score. The Broncos still trampled the RedHawks with ease.

The RedHawks turned over a new leaf Saturday, scoring for the first time in 2009 after 10 pointless periods. Miami University also turned over the ball five times, leading to its third consecutive loss of the season, a 48-26 defeat to Western Michigan University.

On the first offensive play of the game, RedHawk running back Thomas Merriweather fumbled the football into the hands of a Bronco defender. Western Michigan made the most of the mistake by quickly securing six points on the return.

For a winless and then scoreless Miami team who’s only point of pride was strong starts, the early error proved devastating. The half ended with three more RedHawk turnovers and an insurmountable 28-0 Bronco lead.

“You can’t turn the football over and win games in the Mid-American Conference,” Miami head coach Mike Haywood said. “The Broncos did a really nice job of going down and scoring when we made our mistakes.”

WMU pushed its lead to 35 on its second drive of the second half. The script seemed frighteningly familiar to a team hoping to escape its scoreless blowout losses from the first two games when it commenced conference play. Adversity had come calling once again, a foe the RedHawks had not fared well with in the past.

Instead of folding up like a lawn chair, however, the Red and White came back to fight. Answering Western’s fifth touchdown of the game, Miami composed a scoring drive of its own. Senior quarterback Dan Raudabaugh led the RedHawks down the field, amassing 76 yards, five first downs and not a single handoff. Wide out Eugene Harris hung on to the final throw, a 14-yard touchdown pass marking Miami’s first points of the 2009 season. The team took an immediate liking to the new experience of scoring and went on to post three more touchdowns in the game.

“You could see it in the team’s eyes,” Harris said of his score. “(The first touchdown) really motivated us, and it gave us a lot of confidence.”

Although the Miami defense gave up more than 40 points for the third consecutive game, the RedHawks outgained the Broncos on the night by 51 total yards. WMU efficiently scored a large number of points on a relatively average number of yards by capitalizing on Miami turnovers. Four of the Bronco’s scoring drives covered 38 yards or less.

WMU denied Miami's bid for its first win, running away with the game from the very first play. Sure Miami scored, but it was against mostly Bronco backups.

WMU denied Miami's bid for its first win, running away with the game from the very first play. Sure Miami scored, but it was against mostly Bronco backups.

The Western Michigan rushing attack that gained only 60 total yards in two games prior to Saturday reeled off 152 yards against the RedHawks. In a game that provided playing time to many Bronco backups, WMU played three different quarterbacks and three different running backs while nine different players caught passes for Western.

Raudabaugh led the RedHawks in all passing categories but backup Zac Dysert once again saw limited playing time as well. With running back Andre Bratton ailing, freshman ball carrier Roman Lawson led the Miami ground game with 43 yards on seven carries; starting back Merriweather only managed 15 yards on nine carries. With Chris Givens out for the season, junior Armand Robinson led RedHawk receivers with 95 yards on nine receptions.

“They got a level of confidence in themselves, finally putting a touchdown on the board,” Haywood said. “They say, ‘Wow, we can really put a touchdown on the board,’ and then all of a sudden, the next thing we know we’re moving the ball with some consistency with good blocking inside and running better routes.”

The loss to Western drops Miami to 0-3 on the season and 0-1 in MAC play. In the last 53 games the RedHawks have posted 17 wins and 36 losses; this stretch of futility comes on the heels of a 37-16 stretch prior to that.

“I think 90 percent of this is a psychological deal that we have to overcome and we have to get better at it,” Haywood said. “It’s the coach’s responsibility and it starts with me, getting guys to have faith, trust and belief in themselves and they can believe in their teammates as well.”

Miami finishes a four game stretch away from Oxford Saturday at Kent State University. The Golden Flashes were picked to finish just above the RedHawks in the MAC preseason poll. Saturday’s contest under the lights pits two team’s looking for their first conference win of 2009. To turnover a win, Miami must first stop turning over the ball.