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8 September 2013

Huge defensive effort lifts Canes over Gators

Saturday was a great day for our beloved school.

I thought we were pumped for last season’s Notre Dame game, but for this game, Miami fans and students were something beyond pumped.

There was an electricity as soon as I walked into Sun Life. My ears were ringing when I ducked into the concession area after the first quarter.

Ever since Miami crushed Florida Atlantic, and Florida sort of squeaked by Toledo 24-6, I was ready to ride the bus to upset city.

When Florida started driving down the field to open the game, I was concerned that maybe our defense wasn’t up to the challenge. Then running back Matt Jones fumbled and – quite literally – got the ball rolling.

Two of the Hurricanes’ three touchdown drives came off turnovers, and Duke Johnson’s run was a direct product of Tyriq McCord’s fumble recovery after he stripped Gators’ quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Whenever you needed them, the Miami defense was there.

Not every team can tally five takeaways on the then No. 12, now No. 18 Gators. The coverage in the red zone was flawless. It got to the point where even when Florida was driving, you knew they’d either turn it over or simply get stuffed.

The Canes stopped Jones on a fourth down and one from Miami’s 16-yard line. It was a defining moment – one of the plays of the day.

I felt several times that Florida defeated itself by getting greedy: going for two on the first touchdown; that same fourth and one play could have been an easy field goal.

Everyone on the defense starred, it wasn’t just one or two recovering fumbles and picking off passes. It was Thurston Armbrister, Denzel Perryman and McCord. It was Rayshawn Jenkins, Tracy Howard and Anthony Chickillo, who sacked Driskel to seal the victory.

Hats off to head coach Al Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio.

The Miami offense, though, was stagnant at times. Stephen Morris’s 52-yard bomb to a wide-open Phillip Dorsett in the end zone was a bright spot.

Other than that, the Morris to Dorsett connection didn’t work; the touchdown was his lone reception.

Saturday also saw a weak running game. Duke Johnson didn’t turn in a Duke performance (21 carries for 59 yards, after his 186-yard performance against FAU)

But the Gators engaged the Canes in a defensive chess match, and Miami came out on top.