Miami Hurricanes senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios sprinted — in a joyous frenzy — for about 30 yards, moving laterally along the back of the end zone.
All that running came after he had scored just his seventh career touchdown. Then, when he spotted his offensive linemen who were looking to celebrate with him, Berrios doubled back and ran some more, leaping into their collective embrace.
It seemed like Berrios was sprinting for most of Saturday’s second half. His career-best 55-yard catch late in the third quarter led to the touchdown that gave Miami an eight-point lead in what became a 52-30 UM victory over Toledo at Hard Rock Stadium.
In all, Berrios caught five passes for a career-best 105 yards. His touchdown catch, with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter, was a 19-yarder, and the Canes never led by fewer than eight points again.
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For Berrios, his breakthrough effort came in his 39th career collegiate performance.
“This is my first 100-yard game,” said Berrios, whose previous best was 64 yards. “It’s patience — that’s all I can say. That’s all you can do — put your head down and be patient.”
Berrios stayed patient on Saturday after a first half in which he had no catches. But after Canes star running back Mark Walton injured his left foot in the second quarter, Berrios and tight end Christopher Herndon IV started to emerge.
Walton returned late in the third quarter. But by that time, quarterback Malik Rosier had found comfort in Berrios and Herndon, both seniors.
Herndon finished with eight catches for 65 yards — both career highs — and one touchdown.
And on Berrios’ 55-yard play, he caught a crossing pattern while running from right to left. Berrios slammed on the brakes, and as his defender flew past him, he spun back to the right side and found himself pulling away from defenders for 41 glorious yards.
“It’s a play we’ve worked hundreds of times,” Berrios said of the catch in which he was finally tackled at the 10-yard line. “It set up perfectly. [Toledo] played the perfect defense for it.
“I ran a good route, and Malik threw a good ball. After that, it was just turning and getting YAC [yards after catch].”
On Berrios’ touchdown grab, he ran a fade toward the left corner of the end zone. The ball was slightly underthrown but high, and Berrios turned, jumped and tucked his legs under his body as he made the two-handed grab.
That play set off his manic celebration.
“It felt good,” Berrios said. “Malik gave me a chance on that ball. I went up and made a play.
“Any time you can get momentum for your team, it’s huge. It’s almost bigger than the six points. [After that play, Toledo] started dropping balls and things started going our way.”
Berrios, who is also Miami’s primary punt returner, didn’t get any yards in that capacity on Saturday. But he made five fair catches, and his sure-handed ability provided comfort to coach Mark Richt.
“He’s reliable,” Richt said. “He’s a great route-runner. He’s tough. He knows [every receiver position]. He’s one of the better leaders we have on our team.”