Those willing to Trust The Process have been rewarded at long last as Chuck Martin’s Redhawk bunch battled back for their first win on the season.
A game that featured the third and fourth options at quarterback for the respective teams always had a chance to be ugly and that is exactly what we got. Neither Kent State or Miami could find a rhythm offensively and the scoreboard showed the result with only 32 combined points.
Coming into the game, Kent State seemed to have found a recipe for success with converted running back/receiver Nick Holley as the quarterback. The Golden Flashes had been effective running option and quarterback keepers against both Buffalo and Akron in the two games preceding the matchup against Miami, but a stout Redhawk defense didn’t afford similar success.
After a rugged first quarter that saw both teams fail to move to ball, Kent State finally got on the board after being gifted a short field and capitalizing on a six play 38 yard drive for a Nick Holley touchdown. Despite scoring on that drive, Kent State still had to convert on 4th down to keep the drive alive.
The struggle Kent State experienced during that touchdown drive was emblematic of the offensive effort for the game. Miami’s rush defense was very good meaning Kent State had many 3rd and long scenarios to negotiate.
To end the first half the Miami offense, much like the Kent State offense, showed a picture of what was to come. After getting a short field thanks to a Kent State penalty, quarterback Gus Ragland did just enough to find the team in field goal range. On the short nine play 35 yard drive, Ragland threw six incomplete passes against only one 22 yard catch by Jared Murphy.
The second half began well for Kent State as on their second possession, they took the ball 95 yards for a touchdown for a 14-3 lead. Running back Will Matthews was the catalyst on the drive with a long 48 yard run.
However the cracks began forming for Kent State as both the offense and defense were experiencing injuries that turned out to be fatal. Justin Rankin, despite pregame reports that he would be available failed to make an appearence, Nick Holley went off late with an injury, and several key players in the secondary couldn’t return including Juantez McRae and Najee Murray.
After the Kent State touchdown, it was all Miami as they began to claw their way back into the game starting with an immediate touchdown to make the score 14-10. Then Kent State snapped the ball out of their own endzone for a touchback to further pull Miami closer.
Then late in the fourth quarter, Miami struck the final blow as Ragland, who had 126 yards passing to that point on nine completions somehow found running back Kenny Young for a 55 yard catch and run with slightly over a minute remaining for a 18-14 lead.
That would be all Miami needed as a George Bollas led Kent State offensive predictably failed to threaten. In a game that Kent State had to win if they wanted to stay in the MAC East race, Miami grabbed the initiative.
It remains to be seen how badly the injuries to the key Kent State players will be, but does it matter anymore? At 2-5 and 1-2 in MAC play, Kent State is likely eliminated from post season consideration.
Miami, on the other hand can be proud of their resilience coming back from a 14-3 deficit to earn their first victory. That first win on the season is certainly breathing life back into the coaching career of Chuck Martin.