The first two drives in Oxford didn't bode well for the Miami RedHawks: the Western Michigan Broncos sacked Andrew Hendrix three times (two for Jarrell McKinney, one for Richard Ash), then Jarvion Franklin had runs of 5, 4, and 55 yards for a three-play Broncos touchdown drive. That sequence is all you need to know about how things went down at Yager Stadium this afternoon.
That's not to say it was all gloom-and-doom for the RedHawks. As they have many times before this season, Miami stayed competitive: a great kick return from Fred McRae IV led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Hendrix to Dawan Scott, helping Miami knock 7 points off a 21-point Western lead. And Franklin had a key fumble on the next drive — caused by Miami's all-world Quinten Rollins — that resulted in a 52-yard field goal from Kaleb Patterson. After a field goal from Andrew Haldeman, the Broncos held only a 24-10 lead at the half.
The RedHawks had been in this situation before: down a few scores (but within reach) at the half, and Chuck Martin and his staff made adjustments that put the fear of God in more talented teams (Marshall, Cincinnati) or ended up in landmark wins for Miami (Massachusetts).
Today was not that day.
The second half was all Broncos, all the time: 17 unanswered points to make it a final score of 41-10, thanks to another Franklin rushing touchdown and a pass from Zach Terrell to Corey Davis. With the writing on the wall just a few plays into the fourth, Hendrix — who took a nasty hit in the second and came out for a play — was replaced by second-string quarterback Drew Kummer. The RedHawk and Bronco reserves got some playing time, and that was that.
Franklin was obviously the MVP, with three touchdowns on 182 yards rushing to go with a fumble that ended up not mattering much. But the most impressive performance surely came from the Broncos' defense, which held the red-hot Hendrix to only 96 yards passing, well below the 288 yards he averaged coming into the game. The line, which finished with six sacks on the day, certainly deserves praise. But Western's defensive backfield was superb, holding the MAC's best receiving duo, David Frazier and Rokeem Williams, to a total of one catch for 20 yards. Cornerback Donald Celiscar, in particular, did an outstanding job.
With the win, the Broncos are now a bowl-eligible 6-3 after last year's 1-11 season (and 4-1 in MAC play), while the RedHawks fell to 2-8 (2-4).