Never count out these Hurricanes.
Senior running back Mike James accounted for four touchdowns, and Eddie Johnson came up with a huge tackle on fourth down in overtime to help Miami rally back from a 17-point deficit midway through the third quarter.
The Canes stunned Georgia Tech with a 42-36 overtime victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win gives Miami (3-1, 2-0 ACC) an unbeaten record in conference play and leaves them atop the ACC Coastal Division. Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-2 ACC) remains in third place in the division behind Miami and Virginia Tech.
“I think the biggest thing is that the players and coaches continued to fight,” coach Al Golden said. “That’s hard to do when you lose momentum like that, but if you scratch and claw and fight one play at a time, and feel confident that you can live with the results, then you can do what we were able to do.”
Quarterback Stephen Morris finished the afternoon 31-of-52 for 436 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Canes’ offense picked up 609 yards of total offense, the first time the team had hit 600 since picking up 629 against McNeese State in 2000.
But it was James and his four scores (three rushing, one receiving) and 113 total yards that stole the show.
“He’s an incredible leader for us, and the heart and soul of this team,” Golden said. “I was excited for Mike. He had some tough runs. It’s hard to say that anybody played better than James yesterday.”
The Hurricanes didn’t waste any time after receiving the ball to start the game. On the third play of the opening drive, Morris found a wide-open Phillip Dorsett down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown to give Miami its first lead of the game.
Miami would extend the lead with 4:11 in the first quarter on a 38-yard field goal by kicker Jake Wieclaw to make it 10-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Yellow Jackets were called for a safety after return man Orwin Smith kneeled in the end zone after the ball had crossed the plane. After review, the ruling was upheld, extending Miami’s lead to 12-0.
Following a severe ankle injury to freshman receiver Malcolm Lewis, Miami extended its lead to 19-0 on a one-yard run by Mike James to finish the first quarter.
Miami’s good fortune completely fell apart in the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets scored 36 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to put Miami in a 36-19 hole.
Georgia Tech started its run after a bizarre penalty on Miami for a sideline infraction. The Yellow Jackets responded with a 57-yard pass by Tevin Washington to set up deep in Miami territory. Smith went in for the score two plays later on an eight-yard handoff.
A fumble by Phillip Dorsett on the ensuing possession would lead to the Yellow Jacket’s next score, capped off by a two-yard run by Washington.
The Canes defense continued to unravel in the second quarter after Washington scored his second rushing touchdown. A two point conversion made it 22-19.
Georgia Tech added another two touchdowns to extend the lead to 36-19 before Miami stormed back.
After a 23-yard kick by Weiclaw and James’ second score of the game, Miami found itself down seven with just under a minute to go. With 27 seconds left, Morris found James open for the tying score that forced overtime.
Johnson came up with a score-saving tackle on fourth and one on Georgia Tech’s first possession in overtime. James then completed the rally with a game-winning, 25-yard run.
Lewis received bad news after the game.He dislocated his ankle late in the first quarter after a 12-yard reception. It was a scary sight at the time, with teammates huddled in prayer and Golden kneeling over Lewis to comfort him. He has been ruled out for the season.
“I just saw, from where I was, it didn’t look right. I ran out there and knew he was scared, because we’ve all suffered an injury at one point,” Golden said. “We were just trying to be there for him and make sure that he knows that we’re there for him and we’ll get through it.”
Miami will now return home to face off against N.C. State on Saturday. The game has been slated for a noon kickoff.
Golden is optimistic that the momentum generated from Georgia Tech will lead fans to Sun Life Stadium.
“I hope more fans will come because they know were growing a team they can be proud of,” he said. “This was the combination of a lot of guys who stepped up. I hope they would be excited about what were doing. We have a long way to go as an organization.”
Never count out these Hurricanes.