Quarterback Kyle Wright connected for an 80-yard touchdown pass with wide receiver Lance Leggett late in the third quarter to lead the Hurricanes past crosstown rival FIU 23-9 in front of 40,915 at the Orange Bowl.
Both teams put aside last season’s sideline-clearing brawl in the second meeting between the two schools.
Miami’s offense struggled through two-and-a-half quarters before executing its longest pass play since the 2005 season.
“That felt great to hit on the big play like that,” Wright said. “We just got our opportunity to hit it and we did.”
Miami had a season-high 428 yards of total offense and, according to Head Coach Randy Shannon, opened up the passing game.
“It was a great win for this team to bounce back from Oklahoma,” Shannon said. “We did some things to simplify what we are doing on offense to get some big plays.”
Despite struggling in the first half, Wright finished the game 10-for-19 for 224 yards in his first start of the season.
Wright threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. He was also unable to make plays through the passing game in the red zone, as the Hurricanes settled for three field goals.
“We’ve just got to do a better job finishing off drives,” Wright said. “FIU came out and played hard. A win is a win and we should be proud of that.”
The running back tandem of Javarris James and Graig Cooper bounced back from last week and had a combined 140 yards on the ground.
Cooper rushed for 33 yards on the Hurricanes’ third drive, including his first career touchdown from 3 yards out to give Miami a 7-0 lead.
Senior wideout Darnell Jenkins had a breakout game, recording four catches for a career-high 108 yards. Jenkins had 16-yard and 18-yard receptions on the Hurricanes’ second scoring drive of 89 yards after Miami started at their own 1-yard line.
Miami led 13-0 at halftime, but squandered multiple opportunities in the opening half.
Junior safety Kenny Phillips had his first interception of the season on FIU’s opening drive. On the ensuing drive from the FIU 34-yard line, kicker Francesco Zampogna missed wide right on a 27-yard field goal.
Miami was also unable to take full advantage of a short field just before halftime.
With FIU trailing 10-0 from the Miami 43-yard line, sophomore cornerback Chavez Grant came up with his second career interception, a 43-yard return into FIU terrority. The Hurricanes ran four plays for zero yards and just settled for a Zampogna 24-yard field goal.
Miami’s defense only recorded one sack, but was able to make FIU redshirt freshman quarterback Wayne Younger uncomfortable in the pocket.
Younger was 6-for-14 for 105 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Miami’s secondary was much improved this week, but did allow a 65-yard touchdown pass to FIU’s Trenard Turner in the fourth quarter.
Shannon emphasized that Miami must play better in certain areas in practice before Thursday’s game against Texas A&M.
“Every week is a process and there are things we have to fix,” Shannon said. “We’ve just got to keep going now and fix the things we’ve got to get done.”
Alex Kushel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyle Wright’s 80-yard pass was Miami’s second longest offensive score in two years
Javarris James and Graig Cooper had a combined 140 yards on the ground
Darnell Jenkins had a career-high 108 yards receiving