Junior quarterback Zac Dysert accounted for 381 total yards and five touchdowns (four pass, one rush) on the way to a Miami of Ohio RedHawk victory against the Army Black Knights 35-28 in Yager Stadium.
The victory for Miami (OH) gave Don Treadwell his first win as a head football coach.
Miami (1-4, 0-1 MAC) immediately went to work on the Black Knights’ defense with their dynamic duo which has combined for all eight of the team's longest plays from scrimmage in 2011. It didn't take long either. Junior quarterback Dysert found wide receiver Nick Harwell for a 45-yard strike inside the 25-yard line on the game’s second play.
The RedHawks then breached the end zone four plays later—their first time in over four quarters—on a 13-yard screen pass to Harwell.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound sophomore wideout tied Martin Nance’s school record of four consecutive 100-yard-plus receiving performances, reaching 109 yards in the first quarter alone.
Army’s (2-4) triple option offense looked crisp right off the bat, rushing for 150 yards off 19 carries (7.9 yards per carry) in the first quarter and scoring twice.
The Black Knights are the first group in 2011 to score twice in the opening quarter against Miami.
When the period ended, the scoreboard read 14-14 and both teams had combined for a total of 345 yards off 38 plays (9.1 yards per snap).
Then it was the defense’s turn to step up.
After a few lousy efforts, an Army turnover and a failed RedHawk fourth down conversion, quarterback Trent Steelman hit Malcom Brown for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Black Knights up 21-14 at halftime.
This marked the fifth straight week that Miami would be trailing at the midway point.
Army then opened the half with a five play, 80-yard touchdown drive orchestrated by Steelman, who ran for 55 yards off three carries to give his team a comfortable 28-14 lead.
The RedHawks proved to be persistent, driving down the field in response to the score. They converted two fourth down conversions during the stretch only to have the ball stripped from the hands of running back Erik Finklea at the 1-yard line.
It seemed all too familiar for coach Don Treadwell and the Miami crowd of just over 14,000.
However, a short drive that was sputtered by a couple busted plays forced the Black Knights to punt the ball for the first time. This gave Dysert the opportunity to show that the torch was still burning, as he drove down the field, going four-of-four for 61 and hooking up with Justin Semmes for the touchdown.
It was a game of ups and downs, but unfortunately for the Black Knights, it was the latter that stuck with them for the second half.
A quick fumble then gave the Miami offense magnificent field position, beginning their next drive at the Army 35-yard line.
How many games will Miami of Ohio win this season?
The RedHawks’ offense seized the moment, scoring after six plays when Dysert’s pass gracefully met the hands of Andy Cruse for nine yards. The game stood tied at 28-all.
A revitalized Miami squad—hungry for its first win—took control of the game as it went 98 yards on nine plays on its next possession. Army let out one last gasp of air, driving from its own 32-yard line to the RedHawks’ 15 before being sacked on fourth down with 24 seconds to go.
"We were playing a little out position on a couple of plays," said Army linebacker Steven Erzinger. "Obviously they're going to exploit that. They saw us doing some things they liked and at halftime made some adjustments. Once you get them hot, it's hard to stop."
That gave Treadwell the chance to set up the “winning formation,” for the first time in his career, as Zac Dysert took a knee to give Miami the 35-28 win.
"It's been a long time," Treadwell said during the postgame press conference. "We were overdue to sing the fight song. Being an alum, I knew the words but I didn't know we sing it so many times now. But if you win, I'll sing it as many times as they want."
Dysert finished 24-of-37 with 342 yards and four touchdowns, marking the eighth time he’s gone for over 300 yards in his career. Fellow teammate Nick Harwell ended up with 10 receptions for 186 yards and two scores, which is the third best receiving day in school history (Harwell owns the record set in last year’s matchup vs. Ohio with 219).
And possibly the most important statistic for the future success of the RedHawks’ season: Miami players combined for 161 yards on 33 carries—its best number since last year against Temple—and will need to continue doing so to have a chance at another MAC title.
Miami will go on the road to face Kent State next week before heading up north to face the conference-favorite Toledo Rockets.