Miami (OH) officially concluded its difficult non-conference campaign Saturday afternoon in West Point. After finally jumping into the win column in Week 3, the RedHawks could not sustain the momentum against an undefeated Army squad in a 23-10 defeat.
Jeff Monken’s triple option attack attained all 384 yards of offense for the Black Knights. Not a single completion was required from Army (4-0) in its wire-to-wire victory over Miami (1-3). Army scored three touchdowns Saturday, but the Black Knights weren’t exactly cashing in on long, methodical drives — two of those touchdowns were QB keepers that spanned over 70 yards.
Quarterback Christian Anderson launched the scoring effort on the Black Knights’ opening drive. Less than three minutes into the contest, he sprinted around the edge, untouched, for a 72-yard touchdown. If a 72-yard touchdown was deflating enough for the RedHawks’ defense, things got even worse in the second quarter when Anderson delivered a 75-yard scamper to the house on a similar play design.
While Army’s offense created massive plays, Miami struggled to move the ball with regularity. The RedHawks punted five times in the first half on drives of four plays or fewer. Miami entered halftime down 17-3, continuing the RedHawks’ streak of futility of not scoring a first half touchdown against an FBS opponent this year. In such games, they’ve entered the break with an aggregate deficit of 73-6.
A killer sequence in the second half all but settled the game. Miami traveled down the field with a series of short Brett Gabbert completions. But the RedHawks couldn’t punch the ball in after two opportunities from the Army 1-yard line. Then, the Black Knights responded by draining 11 minutes of clock on a 99-yard scoring drive to make it 23-3.
Miami managed one touchdown with roughly 11 minutes remaining in the game, immediately following Army’s clock-destroying possession. Gabbert connected with halfback Kevin Davis on a wheel route and Davis sprinted to the end zone for an 80-yard score — the final points of the afternoon.
The RedHawks rotated quarterbacks occasionally throughout the beginning of the game. A.J. Mayer, typically the team’s backup, officially earned the start. His first pass of the game was under thrown and resulted in an Army interception. Mayer only threw one other pass, and Gabbert handled the majority of dropback duties. The third-year starter finished an erratic 11/25 on the afternoon against a relentless Army defense. With the 80-yard touchdown slightly skewing the stat, Gabbert still exhibited solid downfield vision by averaging roughly 18 yards per completion (11.3 yards per completion if you remove his lone touchdown pass).
Miami’s inability to jump-start the ground attack remains a recurring theme. Kansas State transfer Keyon Mozee led all RedHawks’ ball carriers with 11 rushing yards and the team finished with 28 yards as a group — calculating to 1.4 yards per attempt. Establishing consistency on offense was no easy task for Miami, which only held the ball for a third of the clock against Army’s triple option.
In one of the more bizarre stats in college football, Miami extended its non-conference losing streak against FBS teams to 31 games. Ironically, the RedHawks’ last out-of-conference FBS victory transpired over Saturday’s opponent, defeating Army 35-28 in 2011.
The RedHawks open MAC play next week back in Oxford, where they boast a perfect 1-0 record this season. Their first conference visitor is slated to be Central Michigan in a rematch of the 2019 MAC Championship Game.