‘Canes give up just 200 yards in 26-3 victory
Knoxville, TN. – The Miami football team has faced harsh criticism over the past month for its hard fought victories against lesser opponents. Their heart and understanding of what is at stake has come into question, and many believed the Tennessee game would determine what the Hurricanes are really capable of.
Miami answered the calling and extended their nation leading win streak to 31 games, as they dominated the Vols on both sides of the ball en route to a 26-3 victory in front of 107,745 fans at Neyland Stadium. Miami scored on their first five possessions, and took a 19-3 lead into the locker room at the half. The ‘Canes have not produced well in the first half this season, and head coach Larry Coker was more than pleased with his team’s ability to play well for all four quarters.
“This was an outstanding win for our football team because we played well in all three phases of the game,” Coker said. “The team responded well to the criticism over a tough opponent.”
Once again, the usual suspects provided the punch for the Miami offense, with Heisman candidates Willis McGahee and Ken Dorsey leading the way. McGahee rushed for 100 yards alone in the first half and scored his 17th rushing touchdown of the season. McGahee finished the game with 154 yards rushing on 30 carries.
“We came together as a team and connected on all cylinders,” McGahee said. “Our main concern is winning games. We must continue to play as good as possible and improve as we finish the season.”
Dorsey also maintained his Heisman status, completing 18-of-36 pass attempts for 245 yards and a touchdown. Dorsey played mistake free football and found his favorite targets Andre Johnson and Kellen Winslow numerous times. Johnson caught five balls for 103 yards and Winslow also had five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown.
“We feel like this was a statement game,” Dorsey said. “We beat a good team in a hostile environment. We feel very comfortable where this football team is right now.”
The Miami defense held Tennessee to only 200 total yards. Their only shortcoming came on the second play of the game, when Vols tailback Cedric Houston dashed up the middle for a 74 yard run, setting up a 21 yard field goal that gave Tennessee a 3-0 lead with 12:49 left in the first quarter. The Miami defense held tight the rest of the game, holding Vols quarterback Casey Clausen to five-of-14 passing for 63 yards and no touchdowns. Clausen would leave the game at halftime with an injured foot.
The nation’s top rated pass defense held Tennessee to only 77 yards passing in the entire game, while the rush defense responded well to their struggles over the past month.
“Our defense definitely kicked it up a notch, especially against the run,” Coker said.
The lack of offense from Tennessee quickly quieted the fifth largest crowd ever to see a Volunteer game.
“It sounded real good to quiet their crowd,” Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “We set the tone early and maintained our intensity for the entire game.”
Miami answered Tennessee’s early score on its first drive of the game, with a 37-yard field goal by Todd Sievers. Sievers would add his second of four first half field goals in the first quarter, to give the ‘Canes a 6-3 lead after the first quarter.
The Hurricanes continued to move the ball on the Vols defense, finding the end zone early in the second quarter, after Dorsey found Andre Johnson in stride for a 44 yard hook up that set up a McGahee one yard TD run with 13:41 left in the first half. Sievers connected on field goals of 44 and 25 yards in the second quarter, to give UM the 19-3 halftime lead.
“We had an extremely balanced attack on offense and our defense played phenomenal,” said UM center Brett Romberg.
The second half proved to be no different for the Vols offense, as true freshman James Banks took over at quarterback for Tennessee but managed no better than Clausen. The ‘Canes reached the end zone halfway through the third quarter, when Winslow caught an 11-yard strike from Dorsey, extending Miami’s lead to 26-3 with 5:23 remaining in the third. The scoring stopped here, as did the noise from Tennessee fans.
“We came together as a team and proved that nobody can play with us if we play four solid quarters of football,” said defensive end Andrew Williams. “The Hurricanes are known to enter hostile environments and quiet rowdy crowds.”
Miami has a much-deserved week off this Saturday and will play host to a hot Pittsburgh team next Thursday at the Orange Bowl. The ‘Canes are fully aware that they control their own fate, especially after an Oklahoma loss on Saturday.
“We control our own destiny,” Coker said. “If we win the rest of our games, we will be in Tempe.”
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Canes give up just 200 yards in 26-3 victory