Miami routs Bowling Green, leads MAC East Division

Miami (running back Kevin Davis (26) runs during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. Davis scored a touchdown in Tuesday night's win over Bowling Green. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

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Miami (running back Kevin Davis (26) runs during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. Davis scored a touchdown in Tuesday night's win over Bowling Green. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

OXFORD -- Miami is all alone in first place in the Mid-American Conference East Division – at least until Saturday.

The RedHawks walloped last-place Bowling Green (3-8, 1-6), 34-7, on Tuesday in the regular-season home finale at Yager Stadium, becoming bowl-eligible by improving to 6-5 overall and taking a half-game lead over Kent State with a 5-2 MAC record.

“We’re not celebrating yet,” said fifth-year senior cornerback Mike Brown, who had one of Miami’s season-high eight sacks. “We’ll wait until next week.”

The Golden Flashes (5-5, 4-2) are off until playing Akron (2-8, 1-5) on Saturday at noon. The RedHawks wrap up the regular season on Nov. 27 at Kent State. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

Third-year sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert finished 10-for-20 for 227 yards with one interception, fourth-year sophomore running back Tyre Shelton scored his first two touchdowns of the season and Miami scored at least 34 points for the third straight game and fourth in the last five.

“It’s amazing,” Shelton said of the recent surge. “It’s great to see everybody getting the ball. Everybody needs to be ready because they’re going to get touches.”

The RedHawks have scored a combined 112 points over the last 10 quarters.

Miami overcame going 2-for-12 on third-down conversions to extend its home winning streak to 13 games. The RedHawks haven’t lost at Yager since Sept. 29, 2018, 40-39 to Western Michigan.

“Very good win,” coach Chuck Martin said. “The defense was fantastic the whole game except for one big play. (Bowling Green) scored 56 two weeks ago. Offensively, it wasn’t our best effort. We were a little choppy, but we had a lot of chunk plays. We didn’t play great. We mishit a couple of passes. Our timing was off.”

Big plays dominated the first half punctuated by 12 punts, four by the RedHawks – twice as many as they had in the entire game while beating Buffalo on November 9. The Falcons ended up punting 10 times and Miami seven.

Bowling Green scored first when redshirt freshman running back Terion Stewart broke contain up the middle and raced 62 yards for a touchdown.

Miami got on the board when fourth-year sophomore wide receiver Chris Cavalaris rushed punter Matt Naranjo untouched and blocked the punt at the Bowling Green 23-yard line. True freshman defensive lineman Caiden Woullard scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the three-yard line, setting up second-year freshman Kenny Davis’s fourth touchdown of the season, third on the ground.

“That was the game right there,” Martin said of Cavalaris’ play. “The alarm clock goes off. That was a game-changing play.”

Miami took the lead on Gabbert’s 63-yard pass to fourth-year junior wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer on a post pattern, the Penn State transfer’s fifth touchdown catch of the season.

The RedHawks took advantage of short field to increase their lead to 20-7. Taking over at the Falcon’s 35 after a shanked punt, Miami converted on Shelton’s one-yard plunge with 1:26 left in the first half. The touchdown was Shelton’s first of the season.

Gabbert opened the second half with an 83-yard touchdown pass to sixth-year Jack Sorenson on the first play. Sorenson went over a hundred yards receiving for the sixth consecutive game.

Shelton scored his second touchdown on a 15-yard run with 4:29 left in the third quarter after fourth-year junior defensive end Kameron Butler forced a fumble that was recovered by third-year freshman outside linebacker Matthew Salopek at the Bowling Green 25-yard line. The forced fumble was Butler’s second in two games. The recovery was the first of Salopek’s career.

Gabbert, Butler honored: Gabbert and Butler captured MAC Awards on Monday morning. Butler was named Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week, while Gabbert was named MAC East Offensive Player of the Week.

Butler recorded six tackles, 2-1/2 for losses, and a forced fumble in Miami’s 45-18 win over Buffalo. Butler’s turnover resulted in a Miami touchdown and the RedHawks defense as a unit held the Bulls to just 119 yards on 38 carries on the ground while forcing four turnovers in the win.

Gabbert completed 21-of-28 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns versus Buffalo. The sophomore completed passes to seven different receivers and four different RedHawks scored receiving touchdowns.

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