Things started slow for the Miami Hurricanes Saturday afternoon. The visiting Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, an FCS program, got out to an early 7-0 lead and kept the ‘Canes scoreless until roughly midway through the second quarter. Miami ripped off three straight scores before the Wildcats pulled to within a score midway through the third, but three fourth quarter touchdowns put it out of reach.
Granted Bethune-Cookman isn’t the most stellar of opponents, but Miami really needed the win. The trip to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech looms next Saturday, and North Carolina and Georgia Tech follow. Things started clicking in the second half, which should give the Hurricanes a little confidence heading into Blacksburg.
Jacory Harris was mistake-free this afternoon, tossing two touchdown passes to Tommy Streeter and putting up 176 passing yards on the afternoon. Both touchdown passes came at key moments; the first tied the game and the second put Miami up three scores early in the fourth.
Lamar Miller put together his fourth-straight 100-yard rushing performance and scored twice, and Eduardo Clements found the end zone for the first time in his career. The defense even got into the end zone at the end of the fourth quarter as Kelvin Cain picked off David Blackwell and took it 59 yards for the score.
Despite the positives, there’s still work to be done. Bethune-Cookman out-gained the ‘Canes 420 to 335, and the rushing defense struggled again, allowing 219 yards on the ground. The ‘Canes rushing defense was already off to its worst statistical start since the 1995 season, and this afternoon didn’t help.
Andronicus Lovette gained 62 yards on six carries, Blackwell gained 53 yards on five carries, and Anthony Jordan gained 50 yards on seven carries for the Wildcats. All three players averaged more than seven yards a carry. If Miami struggles against the run in Blacksburg next week, they’ll stand little chance of stopping the Hokies from getting into the end zone.
Miami also struggled to start the game strong for the second week in a row and for the third time this season. They failed to score first against Maryland, Kansas State, and Bethune-Cookman. Whether they can get off on a good foot and play aggressively early is something to watch next week in Blacksburg.
Miami faced an opponent for the first time in school history for the second week in a row. Today’s game was also the first time Bethune-Cookman played a team from a BCS automatic qualifying conference.