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Duke Fumbles Twice in the Red Zone, Canes Still Defeat Bulls 49-21

Despite losing quarterback Stephen Morris to an apparent ankle injury in the first half, the Hurricanes defeated the University of South Florida in Tampa for its fourth victory of the season. Miami overcame four turnovers,including two Duke Johnson fumbles inside the five yard line, and two interceptions that led to a defensive touchdown and a last minute score to defeat the winless Bulls. With ACC play starting next week with Georgia Tech coming to town, the Canes will have to tighten their belts and play with more discipline and stop shooting themselves in the foot.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Miami defeated the University of South Florida Bulls 49-21 Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 47,562 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.  Miami begins ACC play next week against Georgia Tech and they must improve ball security in the red zone and stop committing costly penalties at inopportune moments.

The Canes improved to 4-0, while USF fell to 0-4.  It is the first time that the University of Miami has started 4-0 in nine seasons.  However, the University of Miami did commit four turnovers which led to 14 USF points.  USF scored 14 points in the fourth quarter that came off of interceptions thrown by UM quarterbacks.

For the second straight week, the Hurricanes survived a scare as both Stephen Morris and  Duke Johnson left the game with an apparent injury.

After taking a draw play in the first quarter that resulted in a first down, Johnson got hit with either a helmet or a shoulder pad right under the chin and fell to his knees after initially bouncing back up after the play.  He sat out the rest of the quarter but came back in during the opening series of the second quarter.

Morris left the game after suffering an apparent ankle injury.  The extent of the injury is to be determined, but backup Ryan Williams came in and performed admirably, until he threw a late and questionable fourth quarter interception. . Morris will be evaluated after the game and his status for Georgia Tech will be determined during the week.  Morris was in uniform sending in signals from the sidelines.  He did not return to the game.

Morris came out of the locker room red hot.  Morris went 11 of 16 passing before he left the game for 222 yards and two scores. UM had a monster first half statistically. They ran 43 plays for an astounding 413 yards in just two quarters of play.  The Canes finished with 540 yards on the afternoon and chilled off in the second half as UM Coach Al Golden emptied his bench for the second week in a row, but did so with little success.

Johnson rushed for 84 yards on 14 carries in limited action, but fumbled twice near the goal line that would have enhanced Miami's leads throughout the game. Stacy Coley had his best day as a Hurricane as he grabbed four balls for 96 yards and had two scores through the air.  Dallas Crawford also had two scores for UM.

The Canes got things started early.  Johnson took the opening kickoff 25 yards out and Miami set up shop at their own 23 yard line.  The Canes marched 77-yards in eight plays and consumed only 3:05 as Crawford scored from seven yards out to give Miami an early 7-0 lead.  Johnson had a 17-yard run off tackle on the drive.  Morris also kept the drive going with a big 34-yard strike to Allen Hurns on the first play from scrimmage.

USF answered right away with a 75-yard drive of its own led by Marcus Shaw who scored from three yards out. Shaw led all rushers with 127 yards on the day.  It was Shaw's 44-yard run that put the Bulls deep into Miami territory.  The five-play drive seemed to catch the Canes off guard as the Bulls came out in their pistol formation and Miami could not make changes quick enough.

Quarterback Steven Bench got things started for the Bulls on their first play with an 18-yard completion. Bench, making his first college start, and a transfer from Penn State, finished the game with 188 yards passing on 13 completions.  Most of those yards came against UM's third team.

Miami struck back quickly. It could have been quicker, but for a Maurice Hagens holding call on the ensuing kickoff. The Duke raced 100 yards with the kickoff, but Hagens was flagged for the illegal block.  The scoring would wait until six plays later when Morris would hit Herb Waters with a 19-yard middle route that gave Miami a 14-7 lead.

Morris was not done for the quarter.  After a Tracy Howard illegal block in the back call negated a 57 yard punt return by Phillip Dorsett, Morris led the Canes on a nine play drive that covered 83 yards.   Coley was on the other end of a 35 yard touchdown strike.  Morris threw off his back foot and found Coley deep in the back of the end zone.

After Williams came in he marched the Canes to the goal line, but Johnson fumbled before crossing the goal line and the Bulls dodged a bullet.  The fumble offset what was an otherwise productive first half for The Duke.  The Bulls euphoria was short lived as Bench was sacked in the end zone by Shayon Green.  Bench fumbled the ball and it was recovered in the end zone by Jimmy Gaines.  Gaines pounced on the football to give Miami a 28-7 lead in the second quarter.  It was the sixth defensive score against USF this season.

Johnson would not be denied pay dirt on the next drive as he would put the punctuation on a five-play 60-yard drive that took only 1:17.  Johnson scored untouched from five yards out.  Williams hit Hurns on a big 31 yard catch and run which was sandwiched by two straight eleven yard runs by Johnson.

The Hurricanes finished the first half on two sour notes with a Johnson fumble inside the five yard line and a missed 23-yard field goal by Goudis.

Coley scored his second touchdown of the afternoon on Miami's first drive of the second half as he made a circus catch on a pass that was intended for Walford.  The 11-yard grab gave Miami a 42-7 lead.  The drive was highlighted by a 54-yard pass to Waters.