Sunday, November 05, 2000

Miami 27, Ohio 24

Comeback win over Ohio keeps title hopes alive

By Dave Goldstein
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — Mike Bath's 37-yard touchdown pass to Jason Branch with just over a minute remaining gave Miam a 27-24 victory over Ohio Saturday.

        Miami's 10-play, 87-yard, game-winning drive was a shocker — to everyone except the guys in the huddle.

        Miami trailed 24-13 after three quarters, with Bath having completed four passes and the offense compiling eight first-downs. But down 24-20 with 3:49 to play in the game, the RedHawks had the ball at their own 13, and all the confidence in the world.

        “We kind of looked around at each other and we just knew we were going to score,” Bath said. “We got in the huddle, smiled, and said hey, let's just go out and do it.“

        Miami needed a win to stay alive in the hunt for MAC Eastern Division title. But it had to beat an Ohio team that had won three in a row and also had a shot at the division title. Although Ohio dominated the first half statistics, outgaining Miami 241 to z
43 in overall yardage,it led only 14-7 at intermission.

        Miami coach Terry Hoeppner had prepared all week for Ohio's vaunted option attack, one he knew would control the clock. He understood the predicament of an offense that had little time to get into a groove.

        “There's so much pressure on the offense to execute immediately because if you give the ball to them you might not get it back for a while,” Hoeppner said. “I said at halftime that if we could just get some momen tum, it would snowball and good things would happen. Then we went out and scored on three of our last four possessions.”

        The offense would never have had a chance to make the comeback if the defense hadn't kept the game close. Facing an offense that averaged 46 points in its last three games, the defense kept its composure and held the Bobcats to 24 points, none in the fourth quarter.

        The defense was led by freshman Terrell Jones, who led all players with 23 tackles, 13 more than the next closest player. Miami couldn't keep Ohio from moving the ball (437 total years), but the only number Hoeppner wanted to talk about was the final score.

        “They scored some points on us and put together a lot of yards,” Hoeppner said. “But last week we had more yards and fewer points and today we had the most points. I'd much rather have it this way.”

        Miami pulled off the victory with help from some surprising sources. Freshman Ryan Hawk took a number of snaps at quarterback, making the first appearance of his career. Although he didn't complete a pass, his presence gave the RedHawks more flexibility to run, and gave Bath a needed break from the weekly pounding he usually takes.

        And with 5-foot-8 receiver Ty Buxton sidelined, Branch had five catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Bath said the sophomore Branch has improved greatly over the season, and at 6-foot-6, he was a fun target.

        With the win, Miami is tied with Akron and one game behind Marshall in the East. If the RedHawks beat Marshall next week and the three schools end up with one loss, Miami will hold the tiebreaker and win the division.

        Ohio ....... 7 7 10 0—24

        Miami 0 7 6 14—27

        First Quarter

        Ohio—Sherrill 1 run (Kerr kick), 9:02

        Second Quarter

        Miami—Little 3 run (Brumbergs kick), 7:46.

        Ohio—Knaack 6 pass from D. Jackson (Kerr kick), :14.

        Third Quarter

        Ohio—FG Kerr 38, 10:13.

        Miami—Branch 54 pass from Bath (kick blocked), 4:03.

        Ohio—Ray 30 run, :03. Fourth Quarter

        Miami—Little 34 run (Brumbergs kick), 8:27.

        Miami—Branch 37 pass from Bath (Brumbergs kick), 1:19



        RUSHING—Ohio, D. Jackson 41-211, Sherrill 16-91, R. Ray 3-48, Brinker 6-42, Patterson 2-14, F. Ray 2-(minus 7). Miami, Little 25-133, Hawk 4-10, Goodman 1-0, Bath 3-(minus 4), Team 2-(minus 4).

        PASSING—Ohio, Jackson 3-6-1-38. Miami Bath 9-19-0-213, Hawk 0-2-1-0.

        RECEIVING—Ohio, Knaack 2-34, Brinker 1-4. Miami, Branch 5-143, Johnson 3-59, Sullivan 1-11.


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