Stephen Morris threw three touchdown passes, Duke Johnson finished with 325 all-purpose yards and the 14th-ranked Hurricanes shook off a problematic opening quarter to beat Georgia Tech 45-30 on Saturday, extending their best start in nine years.
“You really don’t have any leadership until you have a bead of sweat and the crap hits the fan,” Miami coach Al Golden said, borrowing a phrase from something his team was told over the summer. “And that’s what happened. I think we learned a lot about our team. We had great leadership through that, we had great poise, but it did look bleak.”
Not for long.
The Hurricanes (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) outscored Georgia Tech 38-6 over a 37-minute stretch, more than enough to erase an early 17-7 deficit, even while turning the ball over four times for the second straight week.
Morris shook off the lingering effects of a bone bruise in his right ankle to complete 17 of 22 passes for 324 yards, Dallas Crawford ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to seal the win and the Hurricanes averaged 10.4 yards per snap against a defense that was giving up 4.7 per play coming into Saturday.
“I’m proud to say that we’re on the right track but we’ve still got a lot of things to do,” Morris said.
Phillip Dorsett, Clive Walford and Allen Hurns caught scoring passes for Miami and Ladarius Gunter added a 30-yard interception return for another touchdown with 1:08 left.
David Sims had two rushing touchdowns for Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-2), which wasted a double-digit lead against Miami for the second straight year, plus missed a fourth-quarter extra point that would have tied the game. The Yellow Jackets controlled the first quarter, holding the ball for nearly 14 of the 15 minutes, and still lost to Miami for the fifth straight time.
“It’s frustrating,” Sims said. “The last couple of years we feel we had them on the ropes and we let them off each time.”
Georgia Tech came out with a formation that Miami hadn’t seen, which the Hurricanes described as a sign of respect. It also was a sign of trouble, since the Hurricanes were scrambling like mad against it early.
That, combined with the fact that each of Miami’s first three drives lasted exactly two plays apiece – the results were touchdown, fumble, interception meant the Hurricanes’ defense was put to a big-time test early.
“It was like World War III out there,” defensive end Anthony Chickillo said.
The Hurricanes will next play North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.