Riley-Riley connection leads Cardinals to first MAC win since 2016
Junior redshirt receiver Riley Miller and junior redshirt quarterback Riley Neal have been sharing the field since high school. That long time familiarity was on full display as Riley would connect to Riley 11 times on the day in a 52-24 win over Kent State.
“We wanted to come out at turn the corner today,” Head coach Mike Neu said. “When we got on the bus today I told the guys this is the day we turn the corner. We’re 1-0 in the MAC and that was our goal. We had a lot of positive things happen today, so we need to enjoy it and get back at it tomorrow.”
In just the first quarter, Miller had passed is career high in receiving yards on the day and would finish with 208 yards sparked by a 52 yard pass from Neal in the Cardinals first play of the game. The fourth quarter would see Miller pass 200 yard mark in the game and would be the first time a Cardinal would pass the mark since Willie Snead did in 2012 against Kent State.
“Riley and I have that connection from high school so that helped, but we were just working with what the defense gave us,” Miller said. “We were basically just trying to make as many plays as we could.”
Neal was hot in the first quarter as well passing for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He would consistent throughout the game passing for a career high 402 yards completing 30 of 50 attempted passes. Neal’s passing of the 400 yard mark was the second time in school history a quarterback passed for 400+ yards. Keith Wenning was the first to pass that mark in 2012 against Miami (OH).
“Both had some big throws and some big catches,” Neu said. “The question always gets asked about Miller and he’s just one of those guys who works hard every day. Coach Jackson and our defensive backs have messed with him giving him the name “the GOAT”. It’s a credit to him because of how hard he works.”
While the Riley-Riley connection was on full display on Saturday, this isn’t the first time the two boys from Yorktown have been able to use their familiarity as an advantage on the field.
“Our familiarity helps all the time in practices, lifts and games,” Miller said. “It great to have somebody to fall back onto and have that familiarity with that goes before college.”
Going forward, in breaking a three game losing streak and winning their MAC opener for the first time since 2015, the team believes they are setting a tone for future play. According to Neu, the team has moved on from their finishes in non-conference play.
“Today was a tone setter period,” Neu said. “Whether the opponent was Kent State or whoever, it was time to turn the corner. We had some good moments and some bad moments in non-conference play, but it’s time for us to play with a mindset and mentality, build off that and continue forward.”