KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan took control in the opening seconds and never looked back, pummeling Miami 48-26 in front of a 24,372 CommUniversity crowd Saturday night at Waldo Stadium.
The score may not reflect how dominating Western Michigan was, as the Broncos jumped out to a 48-6 lead and didn’t allow a score until late in the third quarter. On the first play of the game, sophomore free safety Doug Wiggins stripped Miami running back Thomas Merriweather and junior Jamail Berry picked up the ball and raced 24 yards for a touchdown. It was the first of five Miami turnovers forced by the Bronco defense.
Juan Nunez caught a pair of first-half touchdowns, from 10 and 16 yards, out for his first multi-TD game of his career. A forced fumble by Deshon Lawrence on a punt return led to a one-yard touchdown strike from Tim Hiller to Blake Hammond, as Western Michigan built a 28-0 lead before halftime.
A big 40-yard punt return by Jordan White on Western Michigan’s second possession of the second half set up WMU’s next score. White rumbled his way down to the Miami 14 and Brandon West did the rest of the work from there, scoring his first touchdown of the night on a one-yard run.
Miami, who had failed to record a score in its first two games, broke its scoreless streak with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter when Daniel Raudabaugh hooked up with Geno Harris for a 14-yard TD pass. The RedHawks walked away with just six however, as Berry rushed through the middle and blocked the point after attempt.
Hiller marched the offense 45 yards down the field on WMU’s next drive, connecting on three-straight passes, including a seven-yard touchdown to West for a 42-6 lead.
The Bronco defense continued to keep the pressure on, this time Cody Cielenski making the big hit, forcing a fumble and recovering on the Miami one-yard line. Aaron Winchester made the one-yard rush for the Broncos’ final score of the evening.
Recording its 12th-straight home-opening win, the 48 points was the most ever scored by Western Michigan against Miami. WMU also extended its home winning streak to seven games.
Hiller threw for four touchdowns, giving him 81 for his career, just three shy of former Miami quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger on the MAC’s all-time career passing TD list. Hiller connected on 17 of 29 of his attempts and finished with 185 yards.
West racked up 93 yards on 18 carries and had two kick returns for 68 yards. Nunez had six receptions for 79 yards.
Defensively, Berry had a career game also coming up with a first-half interception to go along with his fumble recovery and touchdown and blocked PAT, all of which were career firsts. Wiggins and Cielenksi each forced two fumbles and Austin Pritchard led the defense for the second-straight game with seven tackles, six of those unassisted.
Western Michigan will look to keep the good feelings coming at Waldo Stadium, hosting Hofstra next week at 7 p.m.