Gabbert back in a big way as RedHawks blast Zips

Miami sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert set career highs Saturday with 308 yards passing and four touchdowns in the RedHawks' 38-7 win over Akron. Jeff Harwell/Akron Athletics
Miami sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert set career highs Saturday with 308 yards passing and four touchdowns in the RedHawks' 38-7 win over Akron. Jeff Harwell/Akron Athletics

Sophomore QB passes for career-best 308 yards, 4 TDs in 38-7 win over Akron

Jack Sorenson made sure Brett Gabbert enjoyed his return to action.

Gabbert, Miami’s sophomore quarterback, was knocked out of the RedHawks’ season-opening win over Ball State on Nov. 4 early in the second quarter and missed their 42-10 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 10. His return to action was delayed by the cancellation of Miami’s game against Ohio on Nov. 17, and he seemed to be trying to play two full games in one during the RedHawks Mid-American Conference East Division game at Akron on Saturday.

Gabbert set career highs with 308 yards and four touchdown passes, all to Sorenson, and Miami’s defense limited the Zips to four yards rushing while rolling to a 38-7 win on Summa Field at InfoCision Stadium.

“Having 18 days off was tough,” seventh-year coach Chuck Martin said. “We wanted to try to rest up and come out and play our best football. We played well in all three phases. Our defense was much sharper than they have been. We were able to throw the ball around. It was really a complete football game. We had that game cancelled, but the kids handled it the right way.

“I felt good about our preparation. The kids were locked in. The day the Ohio game was cancelled, they were kind of down and out after the news, but they responded.”

Miami became the 31st FBS program -- first in the MAC -- to 700 wins.

Gabbert, the MAC Freshman of the Year last season, threw for three touchdowns by halftime and finished 18-of-27 before being replaced by third-year sophomore A.J. Mayer midway through the fourth quarter.

Fifth-year senior cornerback Emmanuel Rgumba added a 38-yard return of an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter for the Redhawks (2-1), who remain tied with Ohio for third place in the East behind 4-0 Buffalo and 3-1 Kent State. Buffalo handed the Golden Flashes their first loss on Saturday.

The RedHawks are scheduled to play their regular-season home finale against Kent State at Yager Stadium at noon next Saturday.

Sorenson previously hadn’t caught more than one touchdown pass in a game before catching scoring passes of 61, 29 and 28 yards before halftime. His first catch, on a screen pass on which he broke free behind a block from fifth-year senior tackle Tommy Doyle, surpassed his previous career-long reception of 54 yards against Marshall on Sept. 1, 2018.

It also was the longest completion of Gabbert’s career.

Sorenson also caught a 15-yard pass for a touchdown with 11:37 left in the game, but he was injured on the play and went to the locker room.

“I think it’s an ankle,” Martin said. “... The guy kind of clipped him from behind. It didn’t look good live, but we’ll see how he responds (Sunday).”

The Zips ran one play in Miami territory in the first half. Akron running back Teon Dollard, who gained 202 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Zips’ previous game against Kent State, was held to 22 with no scores on Saturday.

“The defense set the tone in the first half,” Martin said. “They were very sharp. Their back gained 200 yards against Kent State. A lot of our kids watched that game, and they knew that if he got into the back end, we’d be in trouble.

“I thought we were capable of an outstanding defensive effort.”

NEXT SATURDAY’S GAME

Kent State at Miami, Noon, CBS Sports Network, 980, 1450

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