Miami Shuts Out Akron to Earn 8th Win of Season
By: Jack Mueller
The Redhawk’s defense was the star of the show on Wednesday night at Yager Stadium, as Miami pitched a shutout against the conference rival Akron Zips, taking home a victory by a score of 19-0 in front of over 7,000 fans.
Junior linebacker Matt Salopek led the way for the defensive unit, racking up nine tackles, a sack and an interception on the night. Yahsyn McKee added another interception in the Zips end zone to kill the only drive that Akron looked like scoring on. Fellow junior Ty Wise added ten more tackles, three for a loss, and three sacks.
It wasn’t the greatest night for the Miami offense, but thanks to the defensive effort, they didn’t have to do much to bring home a victory. Rashad Amos was the X-Factor for Chuck Martin, racking up 118 yards on the ground and getting to the end zone twice.
The passing game has taken a nosedive since Brett Gabbert went down for the year through injury, and it showed on wednesday night. Aveon Smith was largely ineffective through the air, going 8-17 on passing for only 50 yards, but he was much more effective on the ground, picking up 61 yards with his legs. Gage Lavardain was the leading receiver with only 29 yards on four catches.
Graham Nicholson, who had been perfect up until this point in the season, missed his first extra point of the year to put a tiny blemish on his incredible season. The junior specialist is now 19-19 on field goals and 29-30 on extra points. Nicholson was nominated for the Lou Groza award Thursday morning, which is awarded to the top collegiate placekicker in the nation.
Akron was able to move the football down the field on numerous occasions, and the Zips only racked up 20 less yards of total offense than Miami (Akron: 212, Miami: 236) but an inability to convert on 4th down and a couple of untimely interceptions and sacks for a total loss of 35 yards killed any momentum Akron had built.
With the win, Miami has one foot in the MAC Championship game at Ford Field in the beginning of December. With a win against Buffalo next week or Ball State the following week, the Redhawks will secure their right to a rematch against Toledo, who handed Miami their only conference loss of the season.
Miami will have a full week to prepare for another home Wednesday night “MACtion” game on national television (ESPN2), as Buffalo will travel to Oxford to face the Redhawks on November 15th at 7pm eastern.