Starting in 2016, the RedHawks are 13-3 in the month of November, including 3-0 that season and in 2018. They were 2-1 last season, when pandemic protocols limited their “season” to three November games.
Miami’s “Redbird Rivalry” win on Saturday over the Cardinals at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind., featured the return of third-year sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert, who’d missed the previous 10 quarters with an injury he suffered in the first half of the Redhawks’ 28-17 home win over Central Michigan on Oct. 2. Fourth-year sophomore A,J, Mayer was effective while Gabbert was sidelined, and Gabbert finished Saturday 20-of-24 for 207 yards and touchdowns to sixth-year tight end Andrew Homer and redshirt freshman tight end Nate Muersch.
“He was pretty amazing,” Martin said. “He hadn’t thrown any live balls since Central Michigan. He’d been on the shelf, resting and doing what he was supposed to do. They’ve both been really efficient. We’ve had some great quarterback play. Gabbert was decisive with the ball. He was really decisive. He was really good.”
Gabbert’s efficiency included throwing no interceptions, helping Miami finish the game with no turnovers for the second time this season. The Redhawks also didn’t turn the ball over in their opener at Cincinnati, a 49-14 loss.
Gabbert wasn’t Miami’s only effective passer. Playing against a Ball State team known for deploying trick plays, fifth-year junior wide receiver Jalen Walker completed a 27-yard pass to sixth-year senior wide receiver Jack Sorenson on the way to the RedHawks’ first touchdown.
“We had tons of big plays,” Martin said, describing with a smile Walker’s pass as looking more like basketball hook shot. “Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. We only had two three-and-outs all day. We limited their offense. This was the first time five years that we defended (wide receiver Justin) Hall. He’s a hard guy to keep in check.”
Hall, who went into the game leading the MAC with an average of 141.8 all-purpose yards per game, caught four passes for 32 yards and one touchdown and carried the ball four times for 12 yards. He also returned two punts for a combined 24 yards and one kickoff for 18 yards, finishing with 86 all-purpose yards.
Sorenson had eight catches for 138 yards, his third consecutive game with at least 100 receiving yards, but Miami still needed fifth-year junior safety Sterling Weatherford’s interception in the end zone with a minute left in the game to clinch the win.
Tuesday, Nov. 2
Miami at Ohio, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU, 980,1410