No Appalachian State giant-killers Saturday.
No upset alerts.
Just the little guys getting dominated by the No. 25 Miami Hurricanes on a gorgeous, 72-degree day amid the Blue Ridge Mountains and lush green woods.
Miami came out on fire, stayed smokin’ hot the first half, faltered briefly in the third quarter and ultimately sizzled to a 45-10 victory over the Mountaineers.
Never miss a local story.
It was UM’s largest margin of victory on the road since a 48-9 win at Louisiana Tech in the 2003 season opener.
By the time the UM defense had all but smothered ASU with double-digit tackles for loss, the Canes (3-0) made it 38-10 late in the third quarter — and the Kidd Brewer Stadium record crowd of 34,658 began leaving.
“When both sides click,” UM cornerback Corn Elder said of the defense (241 yards allowed) and offense (549), “we’re a hard team to beat.”
The Mountaineers (1-2) still had their glory moments — and the Canes their scary ones.
With Miami leading 24-3 early in the third quarter and the Canes at first-and-goal on the 1, UM quarterback Brad Kaaya was intercepted and injured his left knee on the play. Mountaineers linebacker John Law ran the pick back 60 yards before he was tackled by UM tight end David Njoku — as a dazed Kaaya limped off the field. ASU took advantage and scored on a 24-yard pass from Taylor Lamb to Barrett Burns to make it 24-10 with 8:41 left in the quarter.
The ASU fans who had been silenced woke up with a very loud jolt.
Hurricanes fans, however, likely held their collective breath while Kaaya bounced up and down on the sideline and did a little practice scampering. When the Canes’ offense came back, so did he, leading his team to two subsequent third-quarter touchdowns and a fourth-quarter one — the first a 12-yard run by tailback Joe Yearby and the next an 8-yard pass to Stacy Coley that had fans packing up for good.
Kaaya, whose left knee was heavily wrapped after the game, was replaced by backup Malik Rosier with about seven minutes left in the final quarter. Kaaya completed 21 of 27 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns, with the interception.
He said the first indications were that there was no ACL injury.
“As far as I know he’s OK,’’ coach Mark Richt said. “We think he’s OK. I’m not holding my breath right now that he may or may not be OK. I think he’s OK. I don’t know. You never know what the next day brings.’’
Five players scored for the Hurricanes: Njoku, kicker Michael Badgley, receiver Coley (twice) and tailbacks Yearby and Mark Walton (twice).
UM true freshman Ahmmon Richards, who had what seemed like at the time a big drop in the third quarter, caught a 61-yarder two plays later, then shortly after that a 62-yarder. Richards ended the day with what appears to be an individual-game record for UM true freshmen: 142 yards on four catches.
With 7:34 left, UM had made five plays of at least 50 yards. All last season the Hurricanes had seven such plays.
It took UM exactly 12 seconds to make its first offensive statement, brought to U by Walton, who rushed for 130 yards and the two scores on 16 carries. The sophomore took UM’s handoff from Kaaya, ran over Mountaineers safety A.J. Howard, then galloped 80 yards into the end zone.
“The O-line did a great job with the defensive line and linebackers,’’ Walton said. “The safety came up, we just met him in the hole, and he came with all his might. I went low with him and bounced off the tackle, seen green grass and just took it.
“We knew we had to set the tone early. With their crowd, in their house, there was going to be some adversity. We just had to overcome it. We were ready.’’
The touchdown was Walton’s sixth of the season. He scored his seventh touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter.
The Canes have an off week before meeting Georgia Tech and its triple-option offense in Atlanta on Oct. 1.
“I look at it first as just getting all our guys back,’’ said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, whose defense had another impressive performance — including the true freshman linebackers — but still has players recuperating from injuries or surgery. “Let’s get healthy in the week and get our full assortment of players available, and from there, yeah, certainly we’ll take the time to coach [them] up in terms of what [the Yellow Jackets] do.
“And even if you do that, it’s still going to be a challenge playing against them for the first time.”