Football, Sports

Miami escapes Wake to stay unbeaten for FSU

Sophomore Duke Johnson (8) escapes a pack of Wake Forest defenders during Saturday's game. Monica Herndon // Photo Editor

Sophomore Duke Johnson (8) escapes a pack of Wake Forest defenders during Saturday’s game. Monica Herndon // Photo Editor

If there are football gods, they didn’t want Miami to lose this weekend.
It just wouldn’t have been right, an unthinkable upset with a potential showdown of undefeated teams on the line.
So Duke Johnson powered the Canes through the fourth quarter, scoring in the final minute to secure the 24-20 victory over a strong Wake Forest team.
The sophomore had 168 yards rushing in total, on a career-high 30 carries, and two huge touchdowns.
“Man, oh man. He ran with a purpose and an anger that we haven’t seen from him,” coach Al Golden said. “His stiff arm was awesome all day. He ran with his pads down, protected the ball. He was clearly on a mission.”
Johnson, who exited Miami’s game against North Carolina after sustaining a head injury, was showered with praise from Golden for his urgency and strength.
“How about his conditioning?” the coach asked the media. “What tremendous conditioning. He gets knocked out of the game last week, and this week he is lowering the pads all day, second and third effort … what can you say about the effort that he gave?”
Good thing, too, because the Hurricanes (7-0, 3-0 ACC) could not find their stride on offense while the usually-stout defense missed tackles and gave up several key third down completions.
Stephen Morris was inaccurate but cautious with the football, and re-established his confidence in the deep throw.
The Demon Deacons rode their own solid passing attack – Tanner Price threw 45 times for 302 yards – to a late lead, but Miami went ahead for good with 53 seconds to play.
“Our guys are really down. We had a good opportunity and just couldn’t make enough plays,” disheartened Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. “Really in the second half, I thought down the stretch we could make enough – it looked like we might have – we just didn’t make enough plays.”
It was the third straight week in which Miami came from more than 10 points behind to win.
And thus, Saturday’s primetime battle is set: No. 7 Miami at No. 2 Florida State, 8 p.m. on ABC.
The teams are two of the 10 remaining unbeaten schools in all of college football. The Canes’ 7-0 start is their first since 2003.
Shane McDermott, back from injury and starting at center, did not let the drama around the program’s NCAA investigation get him off track for the game against Wake (4-4, 2-3 ACC).
“I think our team does pretty good at being internally true and not worrying about the NCAA,” McDermott said. “We attacked this game just like any other game. We didn’t feel fear or anything like that … We are just going to move on and play.”
Golden said he worked extremely hard to temper emotions in the locker room when Miami became aware of its mild NCAA sanctions last Tuesday.
“You want to talk about an emotional rollercoaster. For all of us, we didn’t talk about it all week,” he said. “I know they’re excited about it now in there, thrilled that it’s over. We found a way to scratch and claw and win our seventh. You can’t take any of the previous wins with you to Tallahassee next week. That’s over, we have to get better at the things we need to get better at, and we need some kids to step up.”
The Seminoles played well enough in their win over then-No. 3 Clemson last week that they jumped Oregon in the first BCS rankings.
Florida State (7-0, 5-0 ACC) then posted 35 points in the opening quarter against N.C. State, and freshman sensation Jameis Winston got to rest after just one series in the second half.
The historic rivalry will be featured as the site of ESPN’s College GameDay for a seventh time on Saturday.

October 27, 2013

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