With the exception of Miami losing quarterback Stephen Morris early in the first quarter, it was smooth sailing against Savannah State. Backup running backs Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards scored three touchdowns apiece, and the Hurricanes routed the Tigers, 77-7, on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.
Soon after Morris hooked up with wide receiver Allen Hurns for an 80-yard touchdown, the senior signal-caller's night was over. Morris was wrapped up by Savannah State's Alex Wierzbicki with 8:51 remaining in the opening quarter, appearing to have twisted his right ankle.
After throwing an incomplete pass, Morris remained on the ground and was treated by UM's medical personnel. The quarterback left the field unassisted but never returned, yielding to junior Ryan Williams, who passed for 176 yards and two scores.
Third-string quarterback Gray Crow entered the game late in the second quarter—another indication the rout was on as Miami led 49-0 at the break.
Similar to his quarterback, sophomore running back Duke Johnson also had a limited role in this contest. After opening the game with a 95-yard kickoff return, Johnson carried six times on Miami's second possession, capping the drive with a two-yard touchdown.
Moments after a Ladarius Gunter interception, Johnson broke off a 43-yard run and carried again for four more before a hard hit left him rattled, causing Miami coaches to end his night preventatively. The Canes also sat sophomore wide receiver Herb Waters early after a rough takedown.
Miami amassed 627 yards offensively and benefited from four Savannah State turnovers. Even more impressive, what the Hurricanes were able to accomplish with so many starters on the bench.
Edwards proved the most impressive running back behind Johnson, totaling 113 yards, while Eduardo Clements carried 11 times for 75 yards. On the receiving end, Hurns gained 80 of his game-high 100 yards on the long touchdown, while backup tight end Beau Sandland looked unstoppable, despite the competition.
Regarded as one of the biggest JUCO signings this offseason, the 6'6", 255-pound Sandland showed shades of past greats like Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow II, hauling in passes and bowling over defenders for extra yards after catch. Sandland ended the evening with six receptions for 76 yards and a score.
Another bright spot offensively was the emergence of wide receiver Stacy Coley.
Coley had dropped two surefire touchdowns in the home opener against Florida Atlantic, while inexperience kept him off the field against Florida the following week. Saturday night, the true freshman showed why he was one of the most coveted prospects in the nation last recruiting season.
After getting stuffed on the first play of the game—a five-yard loss on a reverse—Coley nabbed a 25-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. Nursing a hefty lead and with backup quarterbacks taking over early on, Miami got run-heavy, but Coley still found a way to shine on special teams.
No sooner did Savannah State get its lone score of the night—a 75-yard touchdown run by DeQuan Daniels—did Coley negate it with an 88-yard kickoff return for a score.
Defensively, Miami picked up right where it left off two weeks ago against Florida. True freshman Al-Quadin Muhammad rang up back-to-back third-down sacks on the first two Savannah State possessions. From there, it was a game of three-and-outs, occasional turnovers and the lone score.
Gunter's interception came on Savannah State's third possession. From there, senior safety A.J. Highsmith pulled down an Antonio Bostick pass in the final minutes of the second quarter.
Late in the third, Tyriq McCord—who sealed the win over the Gators with a sack and fumble recovery of quarterback Jeff Driskel—hauled in an interception, setting up a nine-yard touchdown run by Edwards, proving to be the game's final score.
On a day when recent foe Florida lost Driskel for the year due to an ankle injury, via the CBS broadcast (h/t Greg Auman), Miami caught a lucky break regarding Morris, confirmed by the Hurricanes head coach prior to halftime
"The X-rays are negative," Golden told ESPN sideline reporter Steffi Sorensen while jogging off the field. "We'll be cautious with him. We'll get him off his feet or whatever for the next 48 hours, but it looks like he'll be fine."
The 77-point total set a new record for Miami, topping a 75-point outing against Fordham in September 1954. A shocking stat considering the Hurricanes' dominance and jaw-dropping stats over the past three decades.
The record-setting night also came despite both Golden and Savannah State head coach Earnest Wilson agreeing to shorten the fourth quarter by three minutes.
Sitting at 3-0 for the first time since 2004, Miami looks to catch another break next weekend in the season's first road trip when traveling to Tampa to take on winless South Florida.
The Bulls, off this weekend, are 0-3 with losses to McNeese State, Michigan State and Florida Atlantic, who the Hurricanes topped in the season opener, 34-6.
Barring catastrophe, the Hurricanes should be 4-0 when ACC play kicks off October 5 against Georgia Tech, a 28-20 winner over North Carolina earlier in the day.
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog.
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