‘It means everything’ -- Miami stuns UC in overtime to reclaim Victory Bell

Cincinnati had won the last 16 meetings

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — The streak stops at 16. The Victory Bell is back in Oxford.

The Miami Redhawks won their first game since 2005 in the annual “Battle for the Victory Bell” series with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, coming from behind for a 31-24 overtime win on Carson Field at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s been a long time,” coach Chuck Martin said. “A lot had to go our way. We kept fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting.”

Redshirt-junior quarterback Brett Gabbert completed an eight-yard fade pattern pass to fifth-year senior wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr. near the end zone’s left sideline on the first overtime possession.

Miami senior cornerback Yahsyn McKee blocked sophomore Carter Brown’s 35-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in regulation to force the third overtime in the series that dates back to 1888. McKee sealed the upset with an end zone interception on fourth down in OT.

McLee considered the blocked field goal more crucial than the interception.

“It gave us a chance to win,” McKee said. “The right tackle was stepping way down the whole game. I knew I was going to block one eventually.”

Miami redshirt-junior Graham Nicholson kicked a game-tying 20-yard field with 5:10 left, completing an 88-yard drive helped along by two Bearcat pass interference penalties.

According to mcubed.net, Miami now is 1-4 against teams that played in the Big 12 at the time of the games. Cincinnati is in its first season in the Big 12.

The series stands 60-60-7.

“It means everything,” Martin said. “We said all week this means everything to Miami. The last 10 years, we haven’t been competitive. We have alums who don’t care about football, but they care about this game. We said all week we have to take it down to the fourth quarter, and we did.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Now, he or somebody has to figure where the Victory Bell goes.

“No, I don’t,” he admitted about not knowing. “I know they’re ringing it in the locker room. It sounds good.”

While Miami mainly was concerned with stopping junior running back Corey Kiner, senior running back Ryan Montgomery picked up 104 yards on 20 carries. Montgomery, a Franklin High School product, gained a combined 17 on seven carries in the Bearcats’ first two games.

Senior quarterback Emory Jones was 18-of-34 for 265 passing yards as the Bearcats outgained Miami, 538-360, in total offense.

Gabbert led the RedHawks with 75 yards on nine carries and finished 12-of-20 for 237 yards through the air.

Gabbert was slow to get up after a 19-yard scramble to the Cincinnati one-yard line that ended in a hard, headfirst slide. Redshirt-sophomore Aveon Smith came in for one play before Gabbert returned to hand off to junior running back Kevin Davis for a go-ahead touchdown and with 3:01 left in the third quarter.

Miami faced three first-and-goal situations in regulation and forced Cincinnati to settle for field goals in each, including Carter Brown’s 23-yard kick for a 16-14 lead with 7:23 left in the third quarter.

“They were down there all night,” Martin said. “We said all week that we had to make plays and we did.”

Junior wide receiver Gage Lavardain, the transfer from Southeast Louisiana, and Gabbert hooked up on a 79-yard touchdown pass on the first offensive play of the game, helping Miami take a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.

The touchdown catch was Lavardain’s fourth of the season.

“Our recipe was big plays,” Martin said.

The Bearcats responded with a six-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score with 11:47 left in the first quarter.

Gabbert missed fifth-year senior wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr. on the first play of the next possession and was intercepted by Bryon Threats, but Miami held at its one-yard line with third-year sophomore safety Silas Walters stopping Corey Kiner for a two-yard loss on fourth down.

Cincinnati took the lead on Brown’s 28-yard field goal with 1:40 left in the first quarter, but Miami came back on Gabbert’s 17-yard touchdown pass to redshirt-freshman wide receiver Javon Tracy with 9:22 left in the second quarter. Gabbert kept the drive alive with a 26-yard run to the Bearcats’ 15-yard line on fourth-and-5.

The RedHawks again held on second- and third-and-goal at their own 5, forcing the Bearcats to settle for a Brown 23-yard field goal with 1:55 left before halftime.

Miami had one more chance to score before halftime when redshirt-sophomore middle linebacker Corban Hondru intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards to the Cincinnati 22-yard line with 1:01 left in the half, but Lavardain lost a fumble on the first play with 54 seconds left.

The Bearcats gained 259 yards on 40 plays before halftime. The RedHawks gained 183 on 24 during a penalty-free half.

A penalty on Miami for having too many players on the field negated redshirt-junior Matt Salopek’s interception on Cincinnati’s first possession of the second half.


Delaware State at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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