We’ve now begun a new decade, and the past few weeks of this month has given me and fellow Miami fans a chance to reflect on the past decade, and some of the memories that the Hurricanes gave us during the 2010’s.
While recounting old memories and plays from these last 10 seasons, we’ve also discussed the players who stood out the most for the Hurricanes from the 2010’s. Perhaps no player embodied this past decade and was more dominant than running back Duke Johnson.
Congrats to Duke Johnson for being Miami's all-time leading rusher.— Christopher Stock (@InsideTheU) November 30, 2014
During Johnson’s three seasons in Coral Gables (2012-2014), not only did the Dade County native become Miami’s all-time leading rusher, but also left us with countless memorable plays and games. So, let’s take a look at some of those moments, as we countdown Duke’s top-five games while he was a Hurricane.
Honorable mention: 2013 vs Florida
While Johnson only tallied 59 yards rushing against the Gators on this day, the game at least deserves honorable mention for one particular play. Following a fumble recovery by the Canes defense, Johnson sealed the upset victory over 12th-ranked Florida with a two-yard touchdown run with 3:30 left to play. Out of all the amazing plays Duke gave us during his time at Miami, this is the one I remember the most.
Honorable mention: 2014 vs Pitt
Everyone is going to get mad at me for not putting this on the actual top five list, but it was just one play that is remembered from this lousy game. In the 35-23 loss to Pitt, in what would be Johnson’s final home game, Duke became the all-time leading rusher in Miami history, surpassing Ottis Anderson.
5A. 2012 vs Boston College:
For the first number five on this list, we go to Johnson’s first ever game as a Hurricane, 2012 season opener up at Boston College. Being a 5-star recruit out of high school, all Miami fans were expecting Duke to be a star, we just didn’t think it’d happen week one. In the Canes 41-32 victory, Johnson rushed for 135 yards on just 7 carries, averaging an incredible 19.3 yards per carry. He also had touchdown runs of 54-yards and 56-yards. Not a bad way to start your career.
5B. 2012 vs Duke:
Johnson just had so many classic performances at Miami, sometimes you have to bend the rules a little bit and extend the list. Staying in Duke’s freshman year, it was the last game of the Canes 2012 season, and Johnson introduced himself to the Blue Devils. In what was a 52-45 shootout, Duke notched a career-high with 3 rushing touchdowns, going along with his 176 yards on the ground.
4. 2013 vs Wake Forest:
2013 was a special season for the Canes through the first seven games. In week-seven, the 6-0 and ranked #7 Miami welcomed in Wake Forest, and they needed their star running back to deliver a win. On a day where Johnson finished with 168 rushing yards, 85 of them came in the crucial fourth-quarter, as well as did his two touchdowns. The second score came with under a minute to play, lifting the Hurricanes to the 24-21 victory.
3. 2014 vs UNC:
I was thinking of putting his game against Cincinnati (162 yards) from the same year on this list, but it just missed out, and instead I chose the UNC one instead. Against the Tar Heels, Johnson was flat-out silly. Not only did he pass Edgerrin James to move to 2nd on the all-time Miami rushing list, but he also tied a school record with a 90-yard touchdown run. In a 47-20 win for the Canes, Duke ended up with 172 yards just in the first half and 177 when it was all over.
2. 2012 vs Virginia:
The countdown rolls on and we go back Duke’s freshman year, in a game where Miami actually lost, though #8 shined bright. Statistically wise, it’s one of the more incredible games ever played by any Hurricane, not just a running back. In a 41-40 loss, Johnson rushed 150 yards, returned a kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown, and also threw an eight-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns. All in all, he accounted for 376 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
- 2014 vs Virginia Tech:
It only makes sense that Johnson’s career-day running the football earns the number one spot on this list. It was a Thursday night in Blacksburg, and the Canes and Hokies were set to do battle. In a series of games that’s usually close, Miami exploded out of the gate, with Duke leading the way on offense. In the second quarter alone, Johnson rushed for a touchdown, and also connected with quarterback Brad Kaaya for another score right before the half.
Kaaya to Duke Johnson right before the half against Va Tech in 2014 pic.twitter.com/3kZ4MOPUK8— Big Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) January 16, 2020
In the shocking 30-6 road win for Miami, Johnson ended the night with 249 yards rushing and a score, while also adding the receiving touchdown as well.
What’s your favorite Duke Johnson memory at Miami?