Sunday, October 06, 2002

Miami 31, Cincinnati 26


Victory Bell remains in Oxford

By Dustin Dow, ddow@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Cincinnati's Jon Olinger misses a pass in the final minutes.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        The quarterback battle between Miami University's Ben Roethlisberger and Cincinnati's Gino Guidugli lived up to all of its hype Saturday before 31,478 at Nippert Stadium.

        But it was a play called “Hootenanny” run by backup quarterback Josh Betts and freshman tight end Tyler Vogel that spurred the RedHawks to a 31-26 victory in their 107th meeting.

        Miami trailed UC 21-17 midway through the third quarter when a drive stalled on the Bearcats 13-yard line, setting up an apparent 30-yard field goal attempt. Instead, RedHawks coach Terry Hoeppner pulled out a trick play from his playbook.

        With Miami's offensive line several yards to his left, Vogel, the long snapper, hiked the ball to Betts, the holder for field goals. Betts immediately ran to his right and threw a shovel pass to Vogel, who crashed through a pair of UC defenders for the touchdown.

        “It felt like the ball took forever to get there,” said Vogel, who caught his first career pass. “Betts had the option to throw it or run it. I thought, "If he throws it, I better not drop it.”'

        The unorthodox formation confused UC's defenders, who thought they were coming out to contest a run-of-the-mill field goal.

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Cincinnati's Blue Adams breaks up a pass to Miami's Michael Larkin.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        “Someone was supposed to be assigned to (Vogel), but it was just a missed assignment,” said Bearcats cornerback Blue Adams, who was on the field for the play. “Basically, they line up like that to see how we react. Usually, they just kick a field goal.”

        The touchdown gave Miami the lead for good, despite another fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Guidugli and the Bearcats, who lost the Victory Bell game for the second consecutive year.

        Roethlisberger and Guidugli both produced stellar passing numbers until the final four minutes, when Guidugli threw two interceptions and Roethlisberger threw one. Guidugli, a sophomore, completed 27 of 48 passes for 353 yards, 240 of them to senior wide receiver Jon Olinger. Roethlisberger, also a sophomore, completed 27 passes in 37 tries for 240 yards. Each QB threw one touchdown pass.

        The difference for Miami, which improved to 4-2, was its running game. The RedHawks netted 161 rushing to UC's 69, and junior Luke Clemens gained 114 of those yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. The Bearcats' DeMarco McCleskey gained 111 yards and scored two TDs, but only 21 of those yards came after halftime.

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Miami University's football team rings the victory bell.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        Clemens was especially key in the second half when UC changed to a nickel defense to contest Miami's passing attack.

        “We threw the ball real well in the first half,” Roethlisberger said. “But the running game was real important, because we knew we had to use the clock in the second half.”

        In the fourth quarter, however, UC stopped the RedHawks but couldn't get the ball into the end zone.

        “We should have put (UC) away,” Hoeppner said. “We felt like we had them on the run, and running backs coach John Peterson thought we could run it on them. We had them back on their heels a little bit. We didn't play very well the last couple of possessions, though.”

        UC drove to the Miami 6 early in the fourth quarter, but a fumble on a third-down option play forced a 20-yard Jonathan Ruffin field goal that made the score 31-24 RedHawks.

        On the ensuing series, the Bearcats' Mike Brown blocked a Miami punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety, and it looked like momentum might carry the Bearcats (2-3) to their third comeback win.

        But a bad snap on a field goal try with 6:46 left resulted in a botched kick, and the RedHawks' Milt Bowen intercepted Guidugli twice in the final minutes.

        “I didn't throw the ball where it's supposed to be,” Guidugli said. “I take full responsibility for it.”

        UC's last chance ended with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-9 from its own 36 with 26 seconds left.

        “I felt great watching our defense make plays at the end,” said Miami senior Eddie Tillitz, who caught seven passes for 77 yards. “And it's great to be going out with the Bell as a senior.”

       



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