Frank Gore fought for every yard on his way to another 100-yard game, making him the only Hurricane running back to run for 100 yards in the first three games of a season. Despite achieving a goal that neither Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, nor Willis McGahee ever did, Gore seemed surprisingly upset with his performance.
“I struggled in the beginning and I am going to have to make up for my mistakes next week,” Gore said. “I’m happy about my accomplishments but I have to get better.”
A Night of Firsts
Cornerback Glenn Sharpe and wide receiver Jason Geathers got a taste of game action for the first time this season after missing time with various leg injuries. Sharpe made the most of his opportunity, snagging the first interception of his career. Tight end Kevin Everett, who transferred from junior college this year, got his first reception as a ‘Cane. Darnell Jenkins, a true freshman, caught his first touchdown pass when Derrick Crudup hit him from 10 yards out in the fourth quarter. Alex Pou stepped in for the injured Vernon Carey and got his first career start.
Missing in Action
Kick returner Devin Hester ran out of the tunnel with his teammates but an ankle injury sustained in last week’s game kept him in street clothes and on the sidelines. Fullback Quadtrine Hill separated his shoulder last week and missed the game. Fellow fullback, freshman John Beason, also has a shoulder injury and cheered his mates from the bench. Although he saw a little bit of action, offensive lineman Carlos Joseph played sparingly to rest his swollen foot tendon. Carey took the safe route and rested his sprained ankle on a night when his team didn’t need him very much.
Who led the Hurricanes in tackles against the Pirates? Sean Taylor? Jon Vilma? D.J. Williams? No, it was red shirt freshman Brandon Meriweather, who played sparingly until the fourth quarter. Meriweather seemed to end up near the ball on every play as he racked up a game-high seven tackles. Freshman Tyrone Moss ran for 26 yards on four carries during mop-up duty and fellow freshman defensive end Bryan Pata recovered a fumble after an Antrel Rolle sack.
After committing a whopping 16 penalties in their comeback victory over Florida last week, the Hurricane coaching staff stressed the need to cut back on infractions. The Hurricanes only got whistled seven times against East Carolina and they didn’t have any excessive celebration penalties like the ones that haunted them several times against UF.
One for the Good Guy
Jarrett Payton, the senior second-string running back, whose career has hit a lot of bumps along the way including countless injuries and the death of his father, got a moment to shine on Saturday. On his first run of the night, Payton broke two tackles and scampered for a career long 48-yard touchdown, his second of the season.
“I wouldn’t say I dreamed about scoring a touchdown, but I saw it,” Payton said. “Once I broke through there was no denying it. I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me.”
The Boynton Beach Little League World Series runners-up were honored at mid-field before the game…a very healthy crowd of 65,825 showed up to root on the ‘Canes, but the emptiest part of the stadium was the student section (shame on you)…UM President Donna Shalala made an appearance in the press box at half-time and ate a hot dog…Kellen Winslow and Orien Harris enjoyed a post-game snack of cookies made by Sebastian the Ibis’ mother…The ‘Canes head to Boston College this weekend and the Eagles always seem to keep it close in Chestnut Hill.
Nate Johnson can be reached at NPJ44@aol.com