Final Score: Miami 52 Duke 45. Canes finish the year strong with shootout win!!

Miami could be a force next year - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Miami will not be going to the ACC Championship nor bowling. But 'Canes fans have a lot to cheer about as Duke Johnson and Co. finished the year strong and have a bright future ahead.

Freshman Duke Johnson rushed for 176 yards and 3 TDs, and Stephen Morris threw for 369 and 3 TDs himself as UM survived several Duke rallies to hold on 52-45 in Raleigh.

Miami wasted no time jumping out to a 14-0 lead on the strength of a Morris pass to the suddenly unstoppable Clive Walford from 11, and a sensational 19 yard scamper from Johnson that left a Blue Devil defender frozen at the 15. The Hurricanes defense which started the game strong, seemed to relax. Duke would close the gap to 14-10 when Brandon Connette got in from 4, despite fumbling the snap out of the wildcat. Miami quickly responded, when the combination of Morris to Walford set up Johnson's second score of the half.

UM would also finish the half with another nice drive that senior Mike James capped with a 1 yard burst just before the half ended and a commanding 28-10 lead.

But a blow out win was just simply not to be. Following a Jake Wieclaw FG, the Devils went ballistic on offense.Sean Renfree led back to back scoring drives with TD passes to Conner Vernon and Jamison Crowder. Suddenly it was a one score game.

That's when lightning struck, again!! Duke Johnson twisted and turned, and cut and sprinted all over the Dookies for spectacular 65 yard TD run. Miami added to it when the thunderous Mike James knifed through the defense for 72 yards on a well executed screen play. Miami was up 45-24 and the game was seemingly over but......

Miami completely blew a coverage, and Renfree hit Crowder out of his own end zone for a 99 yard TD, the longest play in Duke history. When Miami couldn't score, Duke moved the ball down the field yet again and aided by a number of questionable penalties cut the lead to 45-38 on Vernon's 2nd TD.

As they had all day, the offense produced a big play to bail out the "Canes. Morris read a corner blitz perfectly and hit freshman Herb Waters for a short pass that he turned into a 65 catch and run to build the lead back to 14.

Another ref-aided drive kept viewers watching. But a last ditch onside kick attempt failed and Miami ran out the clock.

Like most of the 'Canes victories this year, this one was not a work of art. The defense STILL has a lot of room to improve, but the signs are there. This team will be a force to be reckoned with in the ACC and Nationally next year, because they have a myriad of weapons, a confident QB, and a unique talent in Duke Johnson. If the defense gets better, watch out in 2013.

Now UM fans wait for the NCAA to do "its' thing". But today was a great send off for the seniors and another building block to much bigger things that all Miami fans can look forward to!

Notes:

Duke Johnson finishes rookie year with 957 rushing yards, a UM freshman record (formerly belonging to Clinton Portis), and 2,070 all-purpose yards (2nd-most in UM history). He also just missed a second consecutive game with a TD pass when his 1 yarder to Walford was overturned by replay.

Walford just missed his second consecutive 100 yard game finishing with 4 catches for 99 yards.

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