Weekend Recap: Rivalry Win Highlights Holiday Weekend for RedHawks
By Jack Mueller
On a day highlighted by College Football rivalries all over the country, both the Miami Football team and Basketball team took the stage to face Ball State and St. Bonaventure respectively, with drastically different outcomes.
The Miami Football team traveled to Muncie, Indiana to take on the Cardinals in what has been dubbed the “Redbird Rivalry”. In this case the Redbirds from Ohio would be victorious, taking down Ball State 17-15 to improve their record to 10-2, their first 10 win regular season since a certain Ben Roethlisberger was under center.
Meanwhile, seven hours away in southern New York, Miami’s basketball team was simply outplayed by St. Bonaventure, as the Bonnie’s would run away with the contest by a score of 90-60. The Atlantic-10 outfit showed why they are a dark horse NCAA Tournament candidate nearly every season, as all of their starters would put up double digit scoring totals and held Miami to a sub 40% shooting percentage throughout the game.
12 p.m.: Miami Football @ Ball State
The Miami RedHawks walked into Scheumann Stadium riding a four game win streak in the Mid-American conference and entered the contest as four point favorites to extend that streak to five. However, Ball State didn’t just roll over and let the RedHawks waltz away with the win, as the Cardinals outplayed Miami for long periods of the game and had a chance to snatch the victory in the dying seconds.
Miami’s offense that had been so effective over the span of their four game win streak, did not look as threatening as many had expected.The dominant rushing attack that has been Miami’s go-to offense over recent weeks was nowhere to be found, as the RedHawks could only muster 57 yards on the ground. Aveon Smith started the game well, doing all that he was asked to do, including finding Tight-End Cade McDonald in the flat for a touchdown to give the RedHawks an early 7-6 lead. Rashad Amos would score Miami’s second and final touchdown of the game, taking the ball in from a yard out to give the RedHawks an eight point advantage. Amos was once again Miami’s most potent threat in the run game, but could still only muster 43 yards.
Entering the fourth quarter, the RedHawks were protecting a five point lead after yet another Graham Nicholson field goal gave Miami a 17-12 lead. Nicholson remains perfect on the season on field goals, connecting on all 23 attempts in 2023 (the blocked PAT against Akron remains his only miss of the year.). Despite the deficit, the Cardinals fought back, forcing two stops to start off the quarter, including an interception by Jordan Coleman on Aveon Smith. The resulting drive would end in a Ball State field goal, cutting the Miami lead to just two, but with three minutes left, it looked like Miami would squeak by the Cardinals and escape with a narrow victory. But on 2nd down, Aveon Smith threw another interception to the Cardinals on the Miami 17 yard line, setting up Ball State for a chance at a game winning drive.
With just under two minutes to play in the game, Ball State quarterback Kelly Kiael would gain sixteen yards on the ground and get into the end zone to seemingly secure a win for the Cardinals, but a holding penalty wiped the score off the board and the Cardinals would have to settle for a field goal. On the kick attempt, Kobe Hilton would come up clutch for the RedHawks, blocking the kick and allowing Miami to escape Muncie with their sixth road win of the season.
Miami will now have a full week to prepare for the highly anticipated rematch with the #23 Toledo Rockets in Detroit for the MAC Championship game. Both teams will be entering Ford Field on a win streak and will be looking to book their place in a marquee bowl game with a win.
2 p.m. Miami Basketball @ St Bonaventure.
“We have to play programs like this, because this is what we aspire to be” said Head Coach Travis Steele on Friday, before his team would hit the road and face St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon.
The 90-60 loss serves as a reminder that while the RedHawks have already taken strides to improve this year, there is still a long way to go before they can compete with the best programs in the country. Outside of a 14-18 record in 2022-23, St. Bonaventure had registered winning seasons for 14 consecutive years in the competitive Atlantic-10 conference, reaching the NCAA Tournament three times. In 2022 the Bonnies were ranked as high as #16, but missed the big dance after Richmond won the conference tournament as a sixth seed.
The game itself was indicative of the pedigree that the Bonnies carry, and a sign that the RedHawks have work to do before the rigor of the schedule picks up. In the 90-60 loss, Miami could only muster 22 total rebounds, while the Bonnies pulled in 42, and were held to just 26% from three point range, a far cry from the percentages that made the long-ball a threat during the Miami Classic.
The Bonnies were led offensively by their three-headed monster that has handled most of the scoring load for the team early in the season. Charles Pride, Chad Venning and Mika Adams-Wood combined for 43 points on 62% shooting. Redshirt senior Daryl Banks III put up his highest scoring output of the season, adding 16 points on 80% shooting from behind the arc.
While Miami struggled all-around in this one, there were some positives to take back to Oxford. Jackson Kotecki continues to impress off of the bench for Coach Steele, with the freshman adding ten points and showing his range, hitting his first collegiate three pointer. Darweshi Hunter once again topped the scoring charts for Miami, putting up 17 points and adding four rebounds, however he was uncharacteristically cold from three point range, shooting 22% on nine shots. Ryan Mabrey has continued to step into his larger role this campaign, adding thirteen points and hitting three shots from behind the arc. Two of the key contributors from the Miami Classic really struggled against the Bonnies as Evan Ipsaro and Bryce Bultman could only muster three combined points (Bultman had 3, Ipsaro was held scoreless) in 53 minutes of court time.
Miami will return to Oxford hoping to bounce back against Spalding University on their home floor on Tuesday, November 28th at 7 p.m.