Satisfying win for Miami
Published: Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 8:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 8:23 p.m.
MIAMI — If this was the last regular-season matchup in a rivalry that has lasted 75 years, the Miami Hurricanes can feel satisfied.
The ’Canes upset 12th-ranked Florida, 21-16, Saturday before 76,869 fans at Sun Life Stadium and now lead the series 29-26.
Miami (2-0) won with defense, holding the Gators (1-1) to just nine points on six red-zone trips.
The ’Canes’ last victory over such a highly-ranked team came in 2010 when they beat eighth-ranked Oklahoma.
“We’ve been through so much,” ’Canes coach Al Golden said, referring to the still ongoing NCAA investigation of his program. “This was almost cathartic. That was 26 months (of frustration were) unleashed there in the last four of five seconds of the game.”
Golden apparently alluded to the negative recruiting he has faced in the past two-plus years.
“It’s been such a hard road,” he said. “They (the Gators) are one of the teams we’ve been battling during this thing. I think you guys can figure that out.”
After the first quarter, Miami couldn’t figure out the tough Gators’ defense. ’Canes running back Duke Johnson was held to 75 yards on 21 carries, and quarterback Stephen Morris was just 12 of 25 for 162 yards.
“They have one of the best defenses in the country,” Johnson said of Florida. “They were better than we expected.”
Morris threw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes – a 7-yarder to Herb Waters and 52 yards to Phillip Dorsett.
But Florida had crept to within 14-9 on a third-quarter field goal, and the Gators might have overcome Miami if not for a big play from Tyriq McCord, a sophomore defensive end.
With less than four minutes left in the game and the Gators trying to rally for the winning score, McCord raced around right end and sacked Florida’s Jeff Driskel. McCord’s hit caused a fumble that he recovered at the Florida four.
Three plays later, Johnson ran two yards for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.
The ’Canes, unranked by The Associated Press and 24th in the USA Today coaches poll, will now surely be a consensus Top-25 team. And with a schedule that looks unimposing until they have to visit Florida State on Nov. 2, the ’Canes could be ready to remain in the rankings for a while.
“We’re different,” Golden said in comparing this team to his first two at Miami. “We’re physically and mentally different. We’re more mature. We’re not a finished product, but I’m proud of the guys. They deserved this victory.”