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Miami (OH) cruises past Kent State 23-3 in MAC opener

RedHawks secure their third win of the season and win their fourth straight.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati

The Miami (OH) RedHawks are on a roll, and now they’ve chalked up four consecutive wins.

Miami entered Dix Stadium on Saturday having collected three straight victories, including two on the road. And Chuck Martin’s road warriors continued their ways in Kent State’s house, taking down the Golden Flashes in a comfortable 23-3 victory. It was the first time Miami prevented an FBS opponent from scoring a single touchdown since defeating Bowling Green 44-3 in November 2019.

After a slow offensive start, the RedHawks scored 23 unanswered points to secure their third road win of the year at the expense of Kent State, which dropped its first home game in the Kenni Burns era.

Right after Kent State kicker Andrew Glass sunk a 27-yarder in the early going, the Golden Flashes defense responded with poise, forcing a Miami punt. But Kent State was very ambitious with its risk-taking, opting to fake a punt on a 4th and 6 from its own 22-yard line. Miami sniffed it out to take over in field goal range, and the RedHawks capitalized on the blunder with a 40-yard field goal from Graham Nicholson.

Miami’s offense, fresh off its highest-scoring game since 1997, took several possessions to jump-start its offense Saturday. After attaining just 14 yards on their first three drives, the RedHawks finally found the end zone on a 32-yard touchdown strike from veteran quarterback Brett Gabbert to Michigan State transfer Cade McDonald. Miami led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter and extended the margin to 13-3 at halftime, following an uneventful second quarter.

The third quarter started with major fireworks from Kent State’s offense. Golden Flashes quarterback Michael Alaimo connected with Chrishon McCray for a 75-yard touchdown to seemingly narrow the deficit three points. But after celebration ensued on the home sideline, the spectacular play was negated by an ineligible man downfield penalty — the second time Kent State’s RPO-heavy offense saw a 70+ yard pass wiped off the board this year due to that infraction.

Instead, a three-and-out put a rest to that possession and Miami drove downfield for another field goal. The RedHawks concluded their scoring effort on the afternoon in the late third quarter when leading rusher Rashad Amos punched in a 1-yard touchdown to rewrite the score to 23-3.

It marked the third time in five games this season Kent State (1-4, 0-1 MAC) was held out of the end zone entirely. But conversely, it was the Golden Flashes’ strongest defensive performance against FBS competition this year, limiting a potent Miami offense to just 23 points and 76 rushing yards at 2.2 per carry.

Miami (4-1, 1-0 MAC) looks the part of MAC contenders after rattling off its fourth consecutive victory. The RedHawks won their second consecutive matchup in the bird-themed MAC East rivalry, improving to a commanding 52-18 in the all-time series. Notre Dame transfer Joe Wilkins Jr. was among the star players for Miami in the victory, totaling a career-high 110 receiving yards on three receptions.

But the best showing observed Saturday was by Miami’s defensive front. The RedHawks collected seven sacks against a youthful Kent State offensive line and produced 11 tackles for loss. Edge rusher Ty Wise led the charge with a pair of sacks, while All-MAC linebacker Matthew Salopek added nine tackles in an omnipresent performance. For a game primarily dominated by the defenses, it comes as a surprise that not a single turnover was forced the entire contest.

Kent State travels to Ohio next Saturday in search of its first MAC win of Burns’ tenure. Meanwhile, Miami hopes to keep it rolling in Oxford, OH with Bowling Green looming on the schedule Oct. 7.