Miami Falls to App. State in Rainy 2023 Cure Bowl

By: Jack Mueller

Miami’s magical season came to an end at the home to the most magical place on earth.

The RedHawks were defeated by the Appalachian State Mountaineers by a score of 13-9 in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, FL. The rainy weather undoubtedly played a role in the game as the 13 combined fumbles was the most in a bowl game since 1988. 

The RedHawks faced adversity from the start, as they were without their top two quarterbacks (Gabbert: Injury, Smith: Transfer). Miami’s offense struggled to get any momentum going, failing to reach the end zone until Rashad Amos broke the plane late in the third quarter. Amos was the lone threat offensively for Miami, racking up 180 yards on the ground on 33 hand offs. 

Miami’s fatal flaw was their play under center, as Henry Hesson and Maddox Kopp struggled to get settled in their first action of the season. The two signal callers combined for 44 yards on 60% completion percentage, while also falling victim to pressure up front, as the App. State line registered two sacks and four TFL’s. 

Despite the harsh conditions, the Mountaineer’s Joey Aguilar was able to lead his offense to victory. The star quarterback finished with a passing line of 19-33, including a rushing score. Running back Anderson Castle was also instrumental in the victory, as the junior ran for over 120 yards, giving the Mountaineers a two dimensional offense the RedHawks were unable to foil. 

Yahsyn McKee gave the RedHawks momentum early on, picking off Aguilar’s first pass of the day, setting up a field goal for Graham Nicholson. The Mountaineers would respond in turn, as a drive led by Castle’s play on the ground allowed App. State to nail a field goal of their own, tying the game at three. 

That would be how the quarter finished, as another App. State field goal by Michael Hughes would give the Mountaineers the lead at 6-3 with thirteen minutes left in the half. Miami was unable to register any response, as both Henry Hesson and Maddox Kopp were unable to lead the RedHawks to a point-scoring drive. After MAC defensive MVP Matt Salopek stopped the Mountaineers final drive of the half, the teams would go into halftime registering a combined nine points. 

The weather would only get worse in the second half, and would continue to play a role in the outcome of the game. Miami’s reliance on the run game would be their downfall on their first drive following the break, as Amos was unable to pick up the 4th and 2, allowing Aguilar and the Mountaineers to take over, mitigating the RedHawks offense. 

Joey Aguilar would take full advantage of the opportunity afforded to him, finding the end zone on a nine yard run, capping a 73 yard drive for App. State, giving them a ten point lead at 13-2 with twenty minutes to go in the game. 

Miami’s lone touchdown would follow, as Rashad Amos would end his strong season with another score, taking it in from 23 yards out. “Golden” Graham Nicholson missed the extra point, preventing Miami from being within a score, but the RedHawks defense would be stellar the rest of the way to allow the offensive unit a chance to win the ballgame. 

The offense was unable to capitalize though, as three RedHawk drives in the fourth quarter failed to result in points. With over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineer offense was able to run the clock down to four zeroes, securing their victory. 

The RedHawks finish 2023 with a 11-3 record, their first eleven win season since 2003. Miami will start 2024 in Chicago, facing Northwestern at Ryan Field to kick off their next campaign. 

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