Miami shuts out Akron, stays atop MAC East standings

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

OXFORD — Running back Rashad Amos ran for two touchdowns and the Miami RedHawks held on to first place in the Mid-American Conference East Division with a 19-0 win over the Akron Zips on Wednesday night in Oxford.

Amos gained 118 yards on 15 carries and scored on runs of one and 30 yards, the second coming late in the third quarter to give the RedHawks a 16-0 lead before a crowd of 7,233 at Miami’s Yager Stadium.

“I have applaud my (offensive) line,” Amos said. “We’ve been working real hard to get better. We’ve been taking baby steps to get better. As a running back, I trust them.”

Linebacker Matt Salopek came up with his first career interception and stopped Akron senior running back Lorenzo Lingard twice on fourth down on the Zips’ first two possession of the second half.

Miami quarterback Aveon Smith finished 8-of-17 for 50 yards passing while carrying the ball 11 times for 42 yards, helping Miami to a second straight win since Brett Gabbert suffered a season-ending injury on Oct. 21 in a loss to West Division-leading Toledo.

Graham Nicholson added field goals of 35 and 32 yards, improving to 19-of-19 on fields, but had an extra point blocked for his first miss in 30 attempts.

The RedHawks overcame running back Kenny Tracy’s fumble midway through the fourth quarter to log their second shutout of the season. Cornerback Yahsyn McKee kept the shutout alive with an interception in the end zone.

Miami has two shutouts in the same season for the first time since 1998. The RedHawks limited the Zips to 36 rushing yards. Junior middle linebacker Ty Wise had two of the RedHawks’ four first-half sacks and three of Miami’s six in the game.

“Our defense had a dominant performance, from start to finish,” coach Chuck Martin said. “They controlled the game. At no point did you feel like (Akron) was going to score a of points.

“Our offense was not very good. We didn’t have a good-enough plan. Give some credit to Akron. At times, they whupped us.”

The RedHawks (8-2, 5-1) lead Ohio (7-3, 4-2) and Bowling Green (6-4, 4-2) by a game in the MAC East standings. Miami has beaten both teams this season.

The RedHawks have won eight games overall for the first time since winning the 2019 MAC championship and have earned at least five conference wins for the second time in three seasons.

Miami is scheduled to face Buffalo in Oxford on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season with the “Redbird Rivalry” game against the Cardinals at Ball State on Nov.r 25 with a kickoff time still to be announced.

Miami junior wide receiver Gage Larvadain caught a team-high four passes before leaving the game late in third quarter with an apparent right leg injury.

Miami benefitted from a couple of officials’ call, starting with the opening drive, which included a 40-yard Amos run that he ended with a fumble originally ruled to have been recovered by the Zips. The call was reversed when a video review revealed that the loose ball had bounced out of bounds before rolling back on to the field. Amos capped the all-run drive with a one-yard plunge with 9:43 left in the first quarter.

The RedHawks seemed to have taken a 13-0 lead when Akron senior quarterback Jeff Undercuffler Jr. was ruled have fumbled while getting hit in the end zone by redshirt-sophomore defensive tackle Nasir Washington while trying to pass. Miami recovered in the end zone, but a video review led to the officials ruling that Undercuffler’s arm was moving forward, creating an incomplete pass.

Undercuffler was injured on the play and replaced by sophomore Tahj Bullock. Undercuffler returned after halftime.

Miami caught a break when redshirt-junior Cade McDonald fumbled a punt that the Zips recovered, but were called for holding before the punt, wiping out the turnover.

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