Hurricanes Ride Offense to 49-14 Victory Over Duke

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The Hurricanes came into this one needing a win after a tough loss to Virginia last Thursday night. The Canes have two tough road games upcoming and the home game against Duke is one you need to grab. Otherwise you’re looking pretty desperate for two more wins to earn bowl eligibility. Miami ran over Duke 49-14 Saturday afternoon to move to 5-4 on the year and pull even at 3-3 in the ACC.

The Canes got off to a hot start with two touchdown drives and two three-and-outs for the defense in the first quarter for the early 14-0 lead. The Canes extended the lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter. The offense stayed hot all game—scoring on seven of their nine possessions including their first five before finally punting with three minutes left in the third quarter—but the defense eventually softened.

Miami held the ball most of the second quarter, and Duke milked over six minutes from the clock on their touchdown drive that proved their only real second quarter possession. Jacory Harris connected with Tommy Streeter for a three-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds remaining in the half to pull to 28-7, Miami’s largest halftime lead of the year.

Duke started to find some holes in the Miami defense on their second quarter touchdown drive, and continued to do so on the opening drive of the second half. Sean Renfree found the end zone on a quarterback draw to pull within two touchdowns early in the third.

But the Hurricanes kept clicking on offense. Aided by good field possession after a failed onside attempt by the Blue Devils, Miami marched down the field to pull ahead 35-14 on a three-yard Lamar Miller touchdown run. Miller finished with 147 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. He became the Hurricanes’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2002 on a 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter following a Ray Ray Armstrong interception. Armstrong’s pick was just the fifth all season for the Hurricanes defense.

Duke wouldn’t score the rest of the way, and Miami added another touchdown following a Duke fumble that was recovered by defensive end Olivier Vernon. Mike James punched it in for the score following the fumble recovery for his second touchdown of the day. He scored in the first quarter when Miami went for it on fourth down at the 1-yard line. James finished with 58 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns.

Harris did a good job spreading around the football, hitting eight different receivers for a 202 yards. He threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions. Streeter led all receivers with four receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Travis Benjamin had 42 receiving yards on the day, pulling him to 1,997 yards in his career. He’s now three yards short of becoming the sixth Miami receiver to eclipse 2,000 yards in his career.

The Hurricanes involved the tight ends a bit more in this one, although the position combined for only two catches. Chase Ford caught the touchdown pass on the opening drive, and was targeted again in the end zone later in the first half, catching the pass but appearing to come down out of bounds. It was close, but the play was not reviewed and head coach Al Golden had already used his challenge in the first half. Clive Walford caught a pass for 13 yards, and had another called back when he was ruled an ineligible receiver.

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree was an efficient 19-for-25 for 181 yards and a score, but Duke continues to struggle to find the end zone. Give some credit to Miami’s defense for forcing the early three-and-outs and for the two late turnovers, but finding the end zone has been a problem for the Blue Devils all year despite the 28th-ranked passing offense coming into the game. Renfree’s second quarter touchdown pass to Conner Vernon was just his seventh of the year.

Vernon finished with five catches for 43 yards, and Donovan Varner caught four passes for 54 yards. The Blue Devils rushed for 148 yards, the third time all year the Hurricanes held a team to fewer than 150 yards on the ground.

Miami is now 8-1 against Duke all-time and have won the last seven meetings including all ACC conference matchups. Duke falls to 3-6 on the year and 1-4 in the ACC. Miami faces Florida State in Tallahassee next Saturday in the annual rivalry game. The road team has won the last five meetings in the series.