Published November 20, 2014
Army changed its practice routine during the week, trying to stay fresh and avoid another bad day on the road.
Didn't work. The Black Knights couldn't hold onto the ball or a late lead.
Zac Dysert threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half Saturday, rallying Miami of Ohio to a 35-28 victory on a day dedicated to the school's reputation as a launching point for successful coaches.
First-year Miami coach Don Treadwell got his first victory after his quarterback got rolling against a young defense that let its inexperience show.
"We were playing a little out position on a couple of plays," senior linebacker Steven Erzinger said. "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."
Dysert had only two touchdown passes in the first four games. He put the RedHawks (1-4) ahead midway through the fourth quarter with his 20-yard pass to Nick Harwell, completing a 98-yard drive in only nine plays.
"Obviously that's horrible, to have the ball go down the field," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "Give them credit, but we're better than that."
Dysert also ran 1 yard for a score against a defense that has three sophomores and two freshmen starting. Dysert was 24 of 37 for 342 yards.
Army (2-4) blew a 14-point lead in the second half and remained winless in three road games. Trent Steelman threw a 45-yard touchdown pass and ran for two more scores, but was sacked on fourth down from the Miami 15-yard line with 25 seconds left.
Miami unveiled four more statues on its Cradle of Coaches Plaza before the game, honoring Ara Parseghian, John Pont, Bo Schembechler and Earl "Red" Blaik, who played and coached at both Miami and Army.
The RedHawks were coming off a 27-0 loss to rival Cincinnati a week ago, the Bearcats' first shutout in Oxford since 1898. Miami opened the game with Dysert's 13-yard touchdown pass to Harwell on the sixth play.
Harwell had 10 catches for 186 yards, the third-highest total in school history. His four straight 100-yard receiving games match the school record.
"Oh gosh, we knew that was going to be a challenge and we tried to have some different things because whoever was going to be in that vicinity was going to need some help," Ellerson said. "The thing that's scary about him is what he can do after he catches the ball, too."
The RedHawks couldn't stop the triple option in the first half.
The Black Knights have topped 300 yards rushing in all six games, their longest such streak since 1996. Steelman ran 24 times for 99 yards overall and completed all of his eight passes for 124 yards against a defense that brought a safety up to the line in the second half, trying to force the Black Knights to throw.
"We were being dared a little bit," Ellerson said. "They were daring us to do it. We can throw and catch it a little bit. That's not the issue. The issue is being able to get a stop on defense and don't turn it over on offense. If we do that, we'll be fine."
Steelman started his 31st consecutive game, the longest streak by a quarterback in Army's history. He threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Brown for a 21-14 lead late in the first half. It was Steelman's third touchdown pass of the season and the longest play so far by the Black Knights.
Steelman also got the Black Knights rolling at the start of the second half. He carried three times for 55 yards, taking it the final 5 yards for a 28-14 lead on the opening drive.
Another turnover figured in the Black Knights' undoing. Raymond Maples' fumble set up Dysert's 9-yard touchdown pass to Andy Cruse that tied it at 28 on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Army lost two more fumbles, leaving it with 10 lost fumbles in the first five games.