UM puts up big 4th quarter
to beat WVU
For most of Saturday’s game, the Miami Hurricanes put together an effort that threatened to cost them their chance at another undefeated season. Over the final part of the contest, though, the ‘Canes again showed why they are the defending national champions.
The Hurricanes defeated West Virginia, 40-23 in Morgantown, extending their nation-long winning streak to 29 games, which ties a school record. Miami also improved to 7-0 and kept their No. 1 ranking in both major polls, thanks to 16 unanswered points during the final 17 minutes of play.
“Our team is pretty resilient,” head coach Larry Coker said. “We played four quarters, and the big difference in the second half was we came up with big pass plays to open up the lead.”
Those big pass plays came from quarterback Ken Dorsey, who shook off a tough first half to throw for a career high 422 yards and two TD passes, while completing 22 of 36 passes. Those numbers might have vaulted Dorsey back to the top of the Heisman list, but more importantly, reaffirmed belief that the senior was still the centerpiece of the Miami offense.
Steady and good are not terms that will likely be used to describe the Hurricanes run defense, though. Two weeks after surrendering nearly 300 yards on the ground to Florida State, the Hurricanes struggled mightily against the Mountaineers, giving up 363 yards rushing. Close to half of those yards, 175 to be exact, went to tailback Avon Cobourne, who entered the game as the nation’s third-leading rusher.
The Hurricanes defensive line attributed the 363 rushing yards to West Virginia’s inability to throw the ball.
“Every team is going to try to rush on us,” defensive end Andrew Williams said. “Other teams will get 300 yards also if they don’t pass.”
After beginning the season with four straight ineffective first drives, Miami scored on their opening possession for the third straight game Saturday, as Dorsey hooked up with wide receiver Andre Johnson for a TD. The Hurricanes other first half touchdown came on a one-yard scamper from tailback Willis McGahee. However, a seven-yard score by Cobourne on a draw play, as well as a field goal closed the gap to 17-10 at halftime.
The teams continued to trade scores as the Mountaineers pounded the football through the Hurricane front seven. A bootleg run by quarterback Rasheed Marshall resulted in a 13-yard score, tying the game at 17. Miami would answer with another McGahee TD before West Virginia engineered another impressive drive, capped off by a Quincy Wilson one-yard touchdown plunge. The PAT was no good, keeping the score at 24-23.
That was when the Hurricanes decided to finish their business, as Dorsey, who improved to 33-1 as a starter, found Johnson for a 12-yard score, giving Miami a 30-23 advantage. On the ‘Canes ensuing drive, Dorsey needed just 51 seconds to drive the team 87 yards for the clinching score.
After the game, Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez offered nothing but disappointment at the result.
“We’re not into moral victories, so don’t even ask that,” Rodriguez said. “In the fourth quarter, we had a couple of breakdowns and we couldn’t make plays. They did. That was the difference.”
Miami may not have given the game plan much of an overhaul in the second half, but the defense was able to get to the line of scrimmage quicker in the second half. The ‘Canes also shut down the passing atttack, holding West Virginia to a measly 60 yards through the air.
“I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it until we actually watch the film,” linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “We made a couple of adjustments and played better ball the second half.”
The fact remains, though, that this Miami team continues to have trouble stopping the run. The Hurricanes will certainly be in the film room dissecting their problems, but with games remaining at Tennessee and against Virginia Tech, the team knows they must do a much better job in that department.
You can reach Jeremy Marks-Peltz at firstname.lastname@example.org