Second-half surge powers Miami past Bethune-Cookman

This game looked like an unimportant matchup between a major program and a Division 1-AA school, and it felt like one, too.

Between a lot of empty orange seats and the fact that Bethune-Cookman was facing its first BCS opponent in program history, this game shouldn't have meant much to Miami.

But it did.

With two losses already under their belts and a showdown against Virginia Tech looming, the Hurricanes needed to find something that worked quick.

However, all Miami (2-2) discovered was more of the same, overcoming a sluggish start to labor through a 45-14 victory against the Wildcats on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.

"I don't know why [we got off to a slow start]," linebacker Sean Spence said. "But we have to change it."

The Hurricanes put together another uneven performance that had them down 7-0 for most of the first half, before erupting for two touchdowns to end the second quarter.

The Wildcats pounced on Miami from the start, putting together a 12-play, 70-yard drive to begin the game. But it stalled when the Hurricanes stripped the ball from running back Rodney Scott just 1 yard away from the end zone.

Miami didn't get so lucky on Bethune-Cookman's next drive, when wide receiver Eddie Poole caught a 1-yard pass to give the Wildcats a surprising 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

That score stood until the Hurricanes' offense finally decided to find the end zone with 7:16 remaining in the second frame.

"I would say that we took our opponent a little bit lightly," running back Lamar Miller said. "But at halftime we talked it over and came out and started out fast."

Miller, who injured his left shoulder in last week's loss to Kansas State, helped spark the group with 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It was the fourth consecutive game the sophomore has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark.

"At first, we started off a little slow," Miller said. "But the offensive line started clicking, and I started clicking, so we came out successful.

"I wasn't in pain at all. I got banged up a little bit, but I did a lot of treatment this week."

He was one of the bright spots in a lopsided effort that saw Miami gain just 129 yards in the first half and 206 in the final two quarters.

The pass-catch tandem of quarterback Jacory Harris and wide receiver Tommy Streeter accounted for a lot of those yards.

Streeter finished with two catches for 83 yards. Both receptions went for touchdowns. The junior is leading the team with three touchdown catches.

Harris threw for 175 yards and completed 12 of his 17 passes. Most importantly, the signal-caller did not throw an interception for the first time in seven games.

"It felt just like every other win," Harris said. "As long as we get the 'W,' that's all I care about. The stats, they really don't matter."

Still, the Hurricanes found themselves holding on to a narrow 21-14 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter against a Division 1-AA opponent before going on to score 24 unanswered points to end the game.

"As I told the team, go watch the ticker tonight and see how many guys are heartbroken because they lost to a team they were so-called supposed to beat," coach Al Golden said. "Each game is hard to win."

Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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