Miami backs stun defense, set tone

Before Miami and BG kicked off a very important Mid-American Conference game Saturday, the 16,148 fans in attendance at Miami’s Yager Stadium paid tribute to former conference player of the year and current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

And judging by what took place during the Falcons’ 47-14 loss to the RedHawks, Roethlisberger wasn’t the only celebrity in-house.

The Bible’s Moses was at the game in the person of Miami backup running back Austin Sykes, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry and rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns while running through gaps in the BG defense that resembled the Red Sea.

On the game, Miami rushers gained a total of 262 yards and had five scores.

“I thought [Miami’s] offensive line did a good job,” said BG head Coach Gregg Brandon. “I think they knocked us off the ball. I give them credit.”

“[Miami] didn’t come in as a juggernaut on offense, and they handled us today,” Brandon said.

The first quarter didn’t go well for the Falcons. While the offense couldn’t get anything going, Miami rushers were able to dictate the pace, putting up two scores. The special teams added a safety by blocking a Nick Iovinelli punt.

When the quarter ended, BG trailed 16-0. The deficit would only grow as the game wore on.

“They were a physical team. I think we made some mistakes,” said linebacker John Haneline. “We expected coming out there they were a good football team and they were going to try and impose their will on you.”

Along with the RedHawks’ solid rushing performance, Daniel Raudabaugh started in place of the injured Mike Kokal at quarterback and did a good job of leading the offense. He completed 16-of-24 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown.

Through the air, the Falcons were twice beat by the big play. In the second quarter, Raudabaugh connected with wideout Dustin Woods for 43 yards to the BG 1-yard line. Miami scored on a rush up the middle the next play.

With just over a minute left in the first half, Raudabaugh hit a streaking Eugene Harris down the right sideline for 73 yards and a TD.

“It was just a humbling experience,” Haneline said. “We’ve got to regroup, start with practice and prepare. We have to prepare a lot better.”

As a unit, BG had six tackles for a loss, three sacks and four fumbles forced. Haneline led the team in tackles with 18.

The loss was one that was tough to take for all involved.

“I’m going to bust my butt to not let that ever happen again,” Brandon said. “We’ve got six days to get that done.”