Brad Kaaya went 17 of 24 for 286 yards and threw for three touchdowns as Miami defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 55-34, Saturday afternoon, before a select crowd at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. He threw two touchdowns to Philip Dorsett and one to Clive Walford in the Miami victory. Kaaya also scored on a one-yard keeper in the second half.
However, the day belonged to the UM ground game as the Canes rushed for a season-high 335 yards against a porous Bearcat defense that was missing three starters.
Duke Johnson led the way for Miami with 162 yards on only 10 carries, which included a highlight reel 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Freshman Joe Yearby,a graduate of Miami Central High School, amassed 113 yards on seven carries, which included a 65-yard jaunt in the second half. Gus Edwards entered the game in the fourth quarter and scored on a 39 yard run.
"Duke is playing with such a vengence right now," Miami coach Al Golden said. He then turned to Johnson and said, "I owe you a game ball, bro." Johnson gave the ball to Carter Hucks, a cancer survivor who spent the week with the Hurricanes through the Make a Wish foundation.
This was the first time since November 29, 2003 that the Hurricanes had two running backs surpass the century mark. In 2003 Jarrett Payton and Tyrone Moss each went over the 100 yard plateau in a game against Pittsburgh.
Tyriq McCord broke open a 24-10 game early in the third quarter with a 46-yard interception return of a Gunner Kiel pass that was intended for Mekale McKay. The pass was tipped by Artie Burns and McCord scopped it up before it hit the ground and tip-toed down the sidelines for the score. With only :45 elapsing in the third quarter, Miami had extended its lead to 31-10. The pick was McCord's first of the season.
After the teams exchanged field goals, Kaaya threw his third touchdown pass of the day, a 79-yard effort to Philip Dorsett, who caught three balls on the day for 143 yards and two scores, which made the score 41-13.
"We were going for the throat right there," Dorsett said. "We wanted to finish them right there and then."
The Canes were a little better on third-down defense, as the Bearcats were 8 of 20. The defense gave up too many big plays to quarterback Gunner Kiel, who was supposed to be out with bruised ribs. Kiel dissected the UM defense for 355 yards and three scores. He was also picked off three times. Cincinnati finished with 422 yards of total offense on the day and found the end zone four times, although one was on a fumble return late in the game.
Miami was also beseiged by penalties. The Canes were flagged 13 times for 155 yards, including two one play, an interception by Raphael Kirby.
"That was a crazy amount of penalties," Golden said after the game. "We are disappointed."
Miami started slow, but on their second drive, they took one play to score. Johnson took the hand off from Kaaya and dashed 80 yards untouched for the UM score. Johnson simply out ran the defense once he got to the second level. He went right through the middle of the Bearcat defense.
With the run, Johnson surpassed Clinton Portis for fourth position on the all-time rushing list with 2,586 yards. Portis was in fourth place when the game started with 2,523 yards.
Cincinnati marched 80 yards in 13 plays to tie the score on the next drive as Kiel found Shaq Washington all alone in the end zone from 11 yards out. The drive was aided by a phantom face mask call against UM on a 4th and 1 play that Miami appeared to have stopped on a monster hit by Denzel Perryman. This was a time consuming drive that the Canes are prone to giving up as the defense could not get off the field.
Miami answered with a Kaaya to Walford touchdown on its next series. After a 21-yard run by Joseph Yearby and a personal foul against the Bearcats, Miami set up shop at the Cincy 14 and Kaaya found Walford in the right corner of the end zone for the score. Kaaya threw it back shoulder to Walford, who has been his safety valve this season. The seven-play drive encompassed 85 yards and took less than two minutes to consummate.
Miami closed out the first quarter with 201 yards of offense and two scores.
Kaaya tossed his second scoring strike of the day in the second quarter to Dorsett. The Canes marched 74 yards in five plays en route to the score. The play came on a 3rd and 2 when the whole stadium thought that Duke would get the handoff
Cincy countered with a 33-yard field goal by Andrew Gantz with 4:59 to play in the half. The Bearcats had a first and goal at the UM 5, but lost 11 on a running play that was snuffed out by Perryman. Miami then held the Bearcats on third down, something that they have not had success in doing all season.
The Canes closed out the half with a 47 yard field goal by Michael Badgley to make the score 24-10 at the half.
Before the game, fans flew a banner over the stadium that called for Golden's firing. It did not seem to upset the players.
"We saw it," Dorsett said. "Then we went back about our business and did what we had to do to prepare. This team doesn't care what anyone says."
An interesting footnote to the game, Ryan Williams, the projected starter at quarterback entering spring practice, who tore his ACL in April, entered the game in the fourth quarter to a standing ovation. Golden said after the game that redshirting Williams was just not feasible so they decided to play him.
Ronnie Regula, the team's long snapper and backup fullback, was taken off the field late in the game with a lower extremity injury that causes Golden some concern.
The Canes have next week off and will come back to face North Carolina on November 1, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium. The game will be Miami's homecoming game and will feature former quarterback and cancer survivor Jim Kelly as the Grand Marshal. All fans are asked to come to the game wearing Green.