OXFORD, Ohio — Freshman quarterback Noah Wezensky’s entrance spurred a second-half comeback effort, but Miami University’s football team was unable to prevail in the Battle of the Bricks, falling, 17-7, to Ohio University Saturday afternoon at Yager Stadium.
Wezensky, who was forced into the game following an injury to sophomore Billy Bahl, went 14-of-25 passing for 154 yards and one touchdown. The Miami offense outgained Ohio, 238 yards to 197, but the Bobcats controlled possession with over 31 minutes on the field.
After the Bobcats’ opening drive stalled, the first possession for the RedHawks would be short-lived as Bahl was sack-fumbled on the first Miami play, giving Ohio the ball at the Miami 23-yard line. Ohio took advantage of the field position as freshman kicker Louie Zervos connected on a 33-yard field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead with 11:52 remaining.
On its next possession, Miami drove deep into Ohio territory. However, they were unable to get on the scoreboard as Bahl’s pass was intercepted by freshman safety Javon Hagan in the end zone. Hagan then returned the ball 60 yards to the Miami 40-yard line.
The RedHawks soon returned the favor when junior cornerback Heath Harding picked off senior quarterback Greg Windham’s fade pass in the corner of the end zone. It was the second-consecutive game with an interception for Harding.
Miami’s good fortune proved to be short-lived as Bahl’s pass was tipped and intercepted by senior safety Toran Davis at the Ohio 46-yard line.
Following a pair of punts, the Bobcats put together their most complete drive of the second half, capped off by Windham’s 9-yard touchdown rush that made the score 10-0 Ohio with 8:14 left in the half.
On the ensuing possession, Bahl was injured following a hit by the Ohio defense, leading to sophomore running back Alonzo Smith taking the snap on a wildcat package. Ohio would regain the ball, but the drive was derailed at midfield as the half came to a close.
The second half started with both teams trading punts, as Miami brought in Wezensky to replace the injured Bahl on its possession.
After starting at their own 12-yard line, the RedHawks embarked on an 11-play, 88-yard drive that led to their first points of the game as Wezensky found junior tight end Ryan Smith for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Smith’s first touchdown catch of the season closed the score to 10-7 Ohio at the 4:09 mark of the third quarter.
Ohio began the fourth quarter in Miami territory, but could not extend its lead Joshua Allen blocked Zervos’ 37-yard field goal attempt with 11:56 left in the game.
Long drives for both teams went fruitless, giving the RedHawks the ball at their own 11-yard line with 5:40 remaining in the game. Two sacks of Wezensky by the Bobcats’ defensive front stopped the RedHawk momentum, leading to a punt with 3:55 remaining.
Following an unsuccessful Ohio possession, Miami received the ball on its 1-yard line for a chance at a tie or victory. After a couple of completions, the Ohio front made another major play when it forced a Wezensky fumble that was recovered by junior defensive end Kevin Robbins in the end zone for a touchdown. With the score, Ohio took a 17-7 lead with 1:30 left in the contest.
Miami `s final drive reached Ohio territory, but a failed field goal attempt gave the ball back to Ohio, which took a knee to run down the clock.
The RedHawks will return to action on Oct. 8 as they travel to face Akron at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.