Sunday, October 20, 2002

Miami 49, Buffalo 0

MAC title hopes grow

By Rodney McKissic
Enquirer contributor

        AMHERST, N.Y. - In the 16 years since Miami won its most recent Mid-American Conference championship, several RedHawks teams were expected to contend for the league title. However, the expectations didn't lead to a championship.

        A MAC title again is the goal this season, but this time the expectation isn't only realistic but appropriate.

        The RedHawks improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the MAC with a convincing 49-0 triumph over hapless Buffalo on Saturday.

        Miami, which recorded its first shutout since 1999, scored twice early in the first quarter against the Bulls (1-7, 0-4) and never looked back.

        “The MAC title is the only thing we talk about,” said RedHawks linebacker Terrell Jones, who had one of three interceptions off Buffalo quarterback Randall Secky. “That's the only thing that matters. Our goal is to win the MAC East title and the whole title. That's what we're shooting for.”

        Miami rebounded nicely from its 48-41 loss to Northern Illinois last week.

        RedHawks sophomore quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 16-of-24 passing for three touchdowns and 228 yards in just 21/2 quarters.

        The tone was set early against Buffalo, which ranked 109th in the nation in total defense coming into the game. Roethlisberger was 3-for-3 for 38 yards on Miami's opening scoring drive, capped by Luke Clemens' 12-yard run.

        The RedHawks scored again with 7:50 left in the first quarter, this time in just nine seconds when Clemens, who finished with 98 yards rushing, scored on a 36-yard run.

        The rout was on after Miami completed a 13-play, 79-yard drive with Jason Branch slipping past a falling Mike Lambert for a 9-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

        “We always like to feel like we're in control,” said Roethlisberger, who missed some time in practice this week because of a bruised knee. “I think late in the first quarter, I got the feeling from the rest of the team that nothing could really stop us today except ourselves.”

        The RedHawks recorded their first shutout since defeating the Bulls 43-0 in 1999.

        Buffalo gained 175 yards of total offense, including Secky's 106 yards on 16-of-41 passing.

        In addition to Jones' interception, Miami linebackers Nathan Clayton and John Busing also picked off Secky.

        “It's so much fun to watch our defense when they do stuff like this,” Roethlisberger said. “ 1/2hellip 3/4 To be on the sideline and see a pick after you just scored, it gets your heart racing to get back out there.”

        The Bulls, who have struggled on offense most of the season, at least had a legitimate alibi for their poor play. Andre Forde, Buffalo's leading receiver, was a late scratch because of turf toe.

        Near the end of the first half, Buffalo converted two fourth-down plays. The Bulls advanced to the Miami 7, but kicker Dallas Pelz, with the wind blowing hard in his face, missed a 24-yard field goal wide left.

        The competition becomes more difficult for Miami. Next up is a road game at Toledo before a home game with Ohio University. The Nov.12 game against Marshall could decide the MAC East Division title.

        “We got the MAC champs next week in Toledo and we start (preparing) tomorrow,” Roethlisberger said. “But Marshall is always in the back of our minds. How can they not be?”

        Miami 14 14 14 7 - 49
        Buffalo 0 0 0 0 - 0

        First Quarter
        M-Clemens 12 run (Parseghian kick), 12:45
        M-Clemens 36 run (Parseghian kick), 7:50.
        Second Quarter
        M-Branch 9 pass from Roethlisberger (Parseghian kick), 9:07
        M-Branch 4 pass from Roethlisberger (Parasghian kick), 7:17.
        Third Quarter
        M-Larkin 39 pass from Roethlisberger (Parseghian kick), 10:16
        M-Murray 2 run (Parseghian kick), 7:46.
        Fourth Quarter
        M-Smith 32 run (Parseghian kick), 1:16.
        RUSHING-Miami, Clemens 15-98, Smith 8-68, Wallace 8-31, Betts 2-18, Murray 7-11, Roethlisberger 3-10. Buffalo, Dawson 8-25, Leeper 13-24, Secky 3-17, Dance 1-5, Radon 1-(minus 10), McMahan 1-(minus 11).
        PASSING-Miami, Roethlisberger, 16-24-0 228, Betts 6-2-2-23. Buffalo, Secky 16-41-3-106, Radon 2-3-0 19.
        RECEIVING-Miami, Branch 4-36, Larkin 3-62, Clemens 2-32, Kirkpatrick 2-30, Henderson 2-19, Brandt 2-14, Tillitz 1-32, Stegman 1-15, Murray 1-11. Buffalo, Bartoszek 6-39, Stallsworth 4-30, McClover 3-28, Dance 2-12, Lindsay 1-13, Leeper 1-2, Montanez 1-1.

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