Miami tailback Duke Johnson rushed for 169 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns as the seventh-ranked Hurricanes came from behind and defeated Wake Forest 24-21 before 66,160 at Sun-Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
With Miami trailing 21-17 with 4:02 left to play in the game, the Hurricanes marched down the field and engineered a 10-play 73 yard drive that finished with Johnson scoring from the one. It appeared as though he had scored from the eight, but he was called down at the one and after a replay from the officials, play resumed and Duke scored on the next play.
On a day when Stephen Morris was misfiring and only threw for 191 yards, Johnson put the Canes on his back and willed them to victory.
"I thought Stephen did a good job with his decision making and he protected the football," Golden said in reference to the fact that Morris did not have a turnover whereas he had four last week at UNC. "He had to alter his mechanics. I do not think that there is a question about that. We have to get him back to center and we will."
Johnson, a sophomore from Norland High School, had zero first quarter yards and only had 37 in the first half. He turned on the jets and the afterburners in the second half and would not be denied. In fact, when Miami was mounting its comeback, the Hurricanes ran the ball on approximately 16 of the game's final 20 plays.
"He ran with a purpose. He ran with an anger that we haven't seen from him," Miami coach Al Golden said. "He was clearly on a mission. He was lowering his pads all day and taking on defenders. His conditioning was outstanding."
The win punctuated a tumultuous week in Miami that saw the NCAA put the Canes on probation for three years and take away nine scholarships. The Hurricanes will remain bowl eligible and will not be forced to miss any post-season bowl games as a result of the sanctions.
"I am not going to lie, it has been an emotional week. I was hoping we had enough left in the tank." Golden said. "We can all breathe a little easier tonight and move forward. The good thing about this game is that it will be over at midnight.
"I was more worried than ever this week. No one wanted to talk about Wake this week (referring to the media). It was all about the NCAA," Golden said. "It was an emotional week that's for sure."
All that lies in the mist for the Hurricanes is a date next Saturday with second-ranked Florida State University in Tallahassee.
"We all know who we play next and that is not going to take us by surprise," Golden said. "If anyone wants to talk about football, we are all in."
Late in the fourth quarter, the Canes executed a late fourth quarter drive, trailing by four, that consisted of seven plays, all runs by Johnson and Dallas Crawford, absent a reverse by Stacey Coley. Johnson covered the final four yards for the score and the Canes took their first lead of the game at 17-14 with 5:36 to play in the game.
The lead was short lived, however, as Price hit Dominique Gibson on a 44-yard touchdown to give the Deacs the lead once again late in the fourth quarter. The pass seemed fairly innocuous but the UM defender, OLF Tyrone Corneliius fell down when trying to make the tackle and that freed the receiver to score.
"I thought we did a good job containing them on defense, they just made a big play that hurt us," Golden said. "We scratched and clawed and found a way to win."
Wake Forest got on the board first with a methodical drive that lasted 8:34. The 16-play drive was culminated with a 12-yard run by red-shirt senior John Harris. On the drive Wake went 4-for-4 on third down conversions against a team that was ranked ninth in the nation in third down defense. With 6:26 to play in the first quarter, Miami trailed 7-0.
The game started out ugly for Miami. At the end of the first quarter Miami had three offensive plays and zero points. Wake had run 25 plays and had seven points to show for their efforts.
"We just did not convert," Golden said. "We did a good job of protecting the football and were not sloppy with the football."
Miami dodged a bulled on Wake's ensuing drive as the Deacons marched from their own 25 yard line to the Miami 30 and settled for a 47-yard field goal opportunity from Chad Hedlund. Hedlund had the distance, but missed badly to the right. However, once again, the Deacons moved the ball at will against Miami and had no problem converting on third-down.
The Hurricanes were on the march on their next drive behind runs by Johnson and Dallas Crawford. They went 53 yards in 12 plays but were stopped short on three errant Morris passes. They had to settle for a 34-yard Matt Goudis field goal to make the score 7-3 Wake with 9:28 to play in the half.
Wake, staring at a third and nine from their own 26, completed a long pass from Price to Tyree Harris and that put the ball at the Canes 18 yard line with under 8:00 to play in the half. Two plays later Price hit Michael Campanaro with a nine yard pass off of play action for the score. Wake Forest was up 14-3. The Deacons scored on a seven play drive that totalled 75 yards and took only 2:19. The score came on a 4th-and-1 play.
After Wake punted, Miami came back with a four play drive that resulted in a 35-yard touchdown from Morris to Herb Waters. Waters had one-on-one coverage with the cornerback and made an over the shoulder grab to narrow the score to 14-10 after Goudis PAT.
For the third straight week Miami trailed at the half.
Miami came out of the tunnel and looked strong, but once again they could not convert a third and long. Goudis then missed a 40 yard field goal. Miami went from their own eight to the Wake 23, but once again came away empty handed.