With Kyle Wright breathing down his neck, Brock Berlin had his strongest outing of the season as Miami (4-0, 2-0) beat Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-2) 27-3 in front of 55,000 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.
Berlin threw for a career-high three touchdown passes and the defense forced four turnovers for the Hurricanes. Frank Gore rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries to lead the ‘Canes.
Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball struggled mightily, going 8-for-25 for 68 yards. He threw three interceptions in the face of heavy pressure from the Hurricane defense.
Head Coach Larry Coker said he was more than pleased with his team’s effort in a hostile environment.
“That was probably our most complete game that we’ve had,” Coker said. “I’m very encouraged. I really liked what I saw.”
Georgia Tech actually drew first blood in this game, with running back Chris Woods running up the middle for a 56-yard gain to set up a 24-yard field goal from Travis Bell, making the score 3-0 after the Yellow Jackets’ first possession.
Miami responded quickly, as Jon Peattie booted a 49-yard field goal on a drive where Berlin connected on 15-yard passes to Kevin Everett and Lance Leggett. Leggett, a true freshman, caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.
After a Georgia Tech three-and-out, Berlin led the Hurricanes down the field again with the drive culminating in a 12-yard Roscoe Parrish touchdown reception. Parrish had his best outing of the season with three receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Coker pulled Berlin after the touchdown drive to give Wright two series of playing time, a decision the coach had made during the week. The ‘Canes did not make a first down during the red-shirt freshman’s two possessions.
Berlin said he was not bothered by Coker’s decision to give Wright a chance to play.
“That was the coach’s decision, and I was behind his decision all the way,” Berlin said. “I wasn’t upset in the least.”
Miami didn’t get on the board again until midway through the second quarter, when Peattie drilled a 25-yard field goal to give the Hurricanes a 13-3 lead. On the first play of the ‘Canes’ next possession, Berlin completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Leggett to make the score 20-3 and essentially put the game out of reach for the Yellow Jackets.
The Hurricanes’ final score came on the first drive of the second half, as Berlin connected with Parrish on a 44-yard touchdown strike. The senior signal-caller finished with a line of 10-for-20 for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Wright played the fourth quarter, going 4-for-6 for 24 yards.
Coker said he was thrilled with the play of Berlin despite having to sit out two series in the first half while Wright was in the game.
“I think he was a lot more aggressive,” Coker said. “He put a lot of extra practice time in with what he was doing. And guys came up with plays for him.”
Brandon Meriweather, Greg Threat and Devin Hester had interceptions for the Hurricanes. Leon Williams led the defense with two-and-a-half sacks.
The victory was an overwhelming success for Miami, but it may have suffered a devastating loss as left tackle Eric Winston had to be carted off the field with a knee injury. As of press time, no official word on Winston’s diagnosis had been released, but he is likely gone for the season, which would leave a huge void in the ‘Canes’ offensive line.
The Hurricanes will be off this week before taking on Louisville Oct. 14 at the Orange Bowl.
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.