The Miami Hurricanes did their part, but didn’t receive the help they were looking for from former head coach Butch Davis.
Miami (7-3, 5-2 ACC) traveled to Atlanta and beat Georgia Tech, 35-10, at its own game. The Yellow Jackets (5-5, 3-4 ACC) lead the nation in rushing yards, but they couldn’t stop the Canes’ rushing attack nor the strikes true freshman Stephen Morris threw.
Virginia Tech defeated North Carolina 26-10, putting the Canes’ chances of representing the Coastal Division on life support.
Head coach Randy Shannon was excited about how his team ran the ball and how it kept everything balanced for Morris as the Canes rushed for a season-high 277 yards, accounting for 507 total.
“Big win for us. Big effort on both sides, offensively and defensively, especially upfront,” said Shannon, whose team has run for 200 yards or more in four of its last five games. “When you’re running for 200 plus, have four different running backs score touchdowns and play in the game, those are the things you want from a team. It was a team effort. Guys were very competitive, and that’s what you want.”
Senior running back Damien Berry rushed for 73 yards in his return. Redshirt freshman Lamar Miller led the team with 85 yards and sophomore running back Mike James added another 60. Senior Graig Cooper scored his first touchdown this season.
“I think we have the best running back corps in the country,” Miller said.
On defense, the Canes collected 10 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Senior linebacker Colin McCarthy led the team with 15 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Spence recorded 11 total tackles, three for losses, including two key hits on a fourth-and-long and the first play in the second quarter.
“They played phenomenally,” said Shannon, who spent time during the game personally coaching up the linebackers. “Those guys did a great job getting outside on the pitch plays, causing havoc.”
Spence leads the team with 82 total tackles this season. He felt his teammates made it easier for him to move around against the triple option of Georgia Tech.
“I was trusting the guys next to me,” Spence said. “They were flying around. I was feeding off Colin and the d-line.”
The Canes forced two turnovers in the red zone and the Yellow Jackets finished just 50 percent in the red zone.
“Sometimes we gave up plays we shouldn’t have, but they got in the red zone, we held them,” said sophomore safety Ray Ray Armstrong, who had six total tackles and a fumble recovery that gave the Hurricanes momentum to go up 18 points. “We didn’t break.”
Morris picked up a second consecutive impressive victory while filling in for Jacory Harris, who is still out with a concussion.
He went 10 for 18 with 230 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. His touchdown was to senior captain Leonard Hankerson for 79 yards following a Georgia Tech touchdown.
Hankerson tied Michael Irvin’s single-season touchdown reception record with 11.
Shannon stated after the game that there is no quarterback controversy, and if Harris is cleared by the medical staff, he will resume starting quarterback responsibilities.
The 24th-ranked Hurricanes now return home to face No. 14 Virginia Tech (8-2. 6-0 ACC).
In order for the Canes to reach next month’s ACC Championship game in Charlotte, N.C., they need to beat the Hokies and have Virginia (4-6, 1-5 ACC) beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.