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Miami falls in heartbreaker to Eastern Illinois 21-17

Miami couldn’t get over self-destructive habits in their second FCS loss in three years.

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that was evident in tonight’s game between Miami and Eastern Illinois.

Miami had a great effort against Iowa despite the final score, outgaining the Hawkeyes on offense. Many saw the EIU game as an opportunity to expand upon that development but it was simply not meant to be.

Billy Bahl suffered a sack with 14 seconds to go and could not assemble the RedHawks in time to mount one final play after EIU took the 21-17 lead, which would wind up being the final score.

Bahl would end the night 13-for-22 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on a night where the RedHawks looked primed to attain victory, outgaining the Panthers in total yards 402-316 and by time of possession 35:37-24:23.

The leading receiver for Miami, Maurice Thomas, had three receptions for 37 yards. Rokeem Williams had two receptions for 75 yards and a score, while James Gardener reeled in a 14 yard touchdown reception on his only touch of the night.

Alonzo Smith had 98 yards on 27 touches, leading all rushers,while the RedHawks accumulated 152 yards rushing as a team.

What ultimately did in Miami was efficiency on key downs and penalties.

Miami played an extremely undisciplined game, amassing 12 penalties for 89 yards, while giving up 9 third-down conversions out of 15 attempts to EIU and 1 of two fourth-down attempts.

Miami had dificulty converting all night, going 5-12 on third-down conversions and 0-1 on fourth down and also missed a field goal that could have affected the pace of the game.

The loss is Miami’s second to an FCS squad in Coach Chuck Martin’s tenure, previously losing to Eastern Kentucky at home two years ago.

EIU’s Mitch Kimble threw two touchdowns in the final four minuted to pull the Panthers from a 17-7 deficit to what ultimately became an insurmountable 21-17 lead. He finished 19-of-32 for 150 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Kimble also led EIU in rushing with 49 yards on 10 touches.

EIU had nine different receivers touch the ball, with Paul Gossage (5 catches, 39 yards) leading the Panthers and Addison Bounds, Dennis Turner and Devin Church all grabbing touchdowns.

Miami will host Western Kentucky next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST in Oxford, OH.