No matter how loud their critics have roared, the Miami Hurricanes will head into the open week feeling a whole lot better.
Running back Duke Johnson continued his sprint through the University of Miami record books, receiver Phillip Dorsett had another spectacular day and quarterback Brad Kaaya directed a prolific offense to lead the Hurricanes to a 55-34 victory Saturday over Cincinnati.
The Canes (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) gained 621 yards of total offense – 68 fewer than their all-time output of 689 against UCLA in 1998.
“It feels good,” said Kaaya, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for his first career score.
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Johnson added 162 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to pass Clinton Portis for fourth on UM’s all-time rushing list. He now has 2,654 rushing yards.
Johnson also passed Santana Moss and Ottis Anderson to become the No. 1 all-time Hurricane in all-purpose yards, with 4,427.
Freshman Joe Yearby added a career-high 113 yards on eight carries. Saturday’s game marked the first time since Nov. 29, 2003 (Jarrett Payton and Tyrone Moss) that Miami had two players rush for more than 100 yards each.
No. 3 tailback Gus Edwards rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Big-play Dorsett added 143 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including a 79-yarder, on three catches.
Even fifth-year senior Ryan Williams, who tore an ACL in April and has been recovering from reconstructive surgery, got in the fun. Williams played for the first time this season, entering the game with about six minutes left and throwing one incomplete pass intended for Herb Waters, who came close to catching it.
Defensively, UM had three interceptions, one returned 46 yards by Tyriq McCord for a touchdown. The others were by Ladarius Gunter and Raphael Kirby.
“I remember Denzel Perryman saying, ‘Go! Go! Go! Follow me,’ ” McCord said of his third-quarter touchdown. “So I followed him.”
Said Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, a former UM defensive coordinator and longtime assistant: “We look like the Bad News Bears.”
The Bearcats (2-3, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) nonetheless had 422 yards, 67 of them on the ground. Quarterback Gunner Kiel, who passed for 355 yards and three touchdowns, completed 31 of a whopping 57 passes.
“I wish it didn’t get as sloppy in the fourth quarter,” said UM coach Al Golden, whose Canes allowed 21 points in that quarter – seven on a return of Trayone Gray’s fumble for a touchdown. “But once I felt like we had it won, my immediate goal was to stay healthy. We’re not deep in certain spots, like the offensive line, so I made wholesale changes.”
The banner plane that flew over Sun Life Stadium before the noon kickoff, calling for the firing of Golden, lost much of its luster – at least temporarily.
“FIRE AL GOLDEN SAVE THE U #WESTENDZONE” the banner read as the plane first circled over the stadium at about 10:30 a.m.
The Sun Life seats were all but empty at that point.
“I knew about it,’’ senior Dorsett said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a distraction for us. We didn’t really care. We all saw it and were like, ‘Wow. They did that?’ We just went in the locker room and got ready for the game and came out and played our hardest.”
“This team right now doesn’t care what anybody says, doesn’t care what goes on.”
Johnson, whose 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest rush since Portis had an 82-yarder against McNeese State in 2000, brushed off the banner sighting.
“I had bigger things I had to worry about and had more important things to focus on,” Johnson said.
On the field, in front of an announced crowd of 43,953 that was substantially smaller, the Hurricanes did what they needed to do.
The Canes have next weekend off as they prepare to play Coastal Division opponent Virginia Tech (4-2, 1-1) in Blacksburg for a Thursday night ESPN game Oct. 23.
Duke (5-1, 1-1), which Miami already defeated, helped the Canes by beating previously undefeated Georgia Tech (5-1, 2-1) on Saturday.
Virginia (4-2, 2-0), which Miami meets in Charlottesville on Nov. 22, was off Saturday and is the only undefeated team in the Coastal Division.