CHAMPAIGN, Ill.—Miami University scored two second-half touchdowns, but could not overcome a potent University of Illinois offense as the Fighting Illini topped the RedHawks on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, 50-14.
Miami (0-4) scored its first second-half touchdown of the season with 2:09 to go in the third quarter when senior quarterback Austin Boucher found redshirt freshman wide receiver Rokeem Williams in the end zone with a 6-yard pass. The RedHawks drove 75 yards on nine plays.
In the fourth quarter, freshman running back Grant Niemiec plowed into the end zone from 1 yard out to cap a nine-play, 41-yard drive for the second RedHawk touchdown.
They were the first touchdowns as RedHawks for both Williams and Niemiec. Sophomore kicker Kaleb Patterson connected on both extra-point attempts.
Bolstered by 29 second-quarter points, Illinois (3-1) built an early 43-0 advantage. After the two RedHawk touchdowns, the Fighting Illini capped their scoring with a 6-yard rushing touchdown with 7:09 to go in the game.
As a team, Miami amassed a season-high 250 yards of total offense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Gearing led all players with 81 yards rushing, while Boucher tallied 95 yards passing.
The Miami defense came up with a pair of interceptions for the second straight week.
Junior defensive back Brison Burris picked off Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase on the Miami 14-yard line and returned it 27 yards with 4:51 to go in the first quarter, thwarting the Fighting Illini’s second drive of the game. Following Miami’s first score of the game, freshman linebacker TJ Williams intercepted a pass by Reilly O’Toole on the Illinois 41-yard line with 1:25 to go in the third quarter.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Nate Gerbus led all players with 10 tackles.
Miami returns home next weekend, hosting Central Michigan in its Mid-American Conference opener as part of Family Weekend on the Oxford campus. Kickoff for the October 5 game is set for 1 p.m.
· Fred McRae had his first career reception in the second quarter versus the Illinois. The redshirt freshman led the team with two grabs for 45 yards.
· The touchdown was the conclusion of a 75-yard drive, tied for the longest drive of the season for the RedHawks.
· Miami had a season-high 14 first downs in the game.
· TJ Williams recorded his first career interception.
· Grant Niemiec registered his first career touchdown.
· For the second consecutive game Miami intercepted multiple passes in a game. The RedHawks registered two interceptions versus Illinois and Cincinnati. All four interceptions were by different RedHawks.
· Miami finished the game with 155 yards on the ground. The last time Miami finished with over 100 yards rushing was on Nov. 23, 2012 versus Ball State (103 yards). The last time the RedHawks recorded at least 155 yards rushing was Sept. 29, 2012 at Akron (189).
· Austin Gearing had a career-high in rushing attempts (16) and yards (81).