After hearing the crowd erupt, true freshman Stephen Morris lay on his back on the turf with his arms raised over his head, knowing he had thrown the game-winning touchdown. Morris then got up and ran down the field to celebrate with his teammates in the end zone.
With three minutes remaining in the game, the Hurricanes’ season was on life support, but Morris breathed life back into the program.
In his first collegiate start, Morris filled in for junior quarterback Jacory Harris, who is recovering from a concussion, and led the Canes (6-3, 4-2) on an 82-yard decisive drive in the final minutes to defeat the Maryland Terrapins (6-3, 3-2) 26-20 at Sun Life Stadium.
On the drive, Morris completed every pass (4-4) and converted on a third-and-11 situation with a 16-yard scramble. On the next play, Morris connected with senior receiver Leonard Hankerson on a 35-yard touchdown. The toss hit Hankerson in stride over two defenders.
“Coach [Mark] Whipple called the right play,” Morris said to the Miami Sports Information Department. “I knew when he called it, the play would work. The rest [is] just Hank doing what he does best.”
Hankerson caught his 10th touchdown pass of the season and is one shy of tying Michael Irving for the single season record. Hankerson admired Morris’ composure and poise.
With the win, the Hurricanes became bowl eligible for the third straight year under head coach Randy Shannon.
“A big win today, huge for us to be bowl eligible,” Shannon said. “I thought it was tremendous effort from everybody on the football team.”
Statistically, the Hurricanes’ offense had their best game of the season. Miami racked in 504 total yards and controlled the ball for nearly 37 minutes. The Hurricanes came full force in the run game to help out Morris as Miami had 218 yards rushing.
Redshirt freshman Lamar Miller made his first career start as well. He didn’t disappoint, and had 125 rushing yards, one touchdown and a two-point conversion. Miller’s 125 yards rushing were the most run by a freshman since Javarris James set the school record with 148 yards in 2006.
Now, the Hurricanes will travel to Atlanta, Ga. to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The last time the Hurricanes played in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets ran all over the Canes for 472 rushing yards, the second highest total ever allowed by the Canes.
The Canes can still win the coastal division if they beat GT and Virginia Tech. Miami also needs Virginia Tech to slip up against either North Carolina or Virginia.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.