With Malik Rosier taking over for University of Miami quarterback and career passing record-holder Brad Kaaya (who was cut Saturday by the NFL’s Detroit Lions), the Hurricanes knew it was imperative that their running game shine.
That, it did – 317 yards bright.
Junior Mark Walton, coming out of an emotional offseason in which his mother died less than a month after his first child was born, was dominant once again in UM’s 41-13 victory Saturday over Bethune-Cookman.
Walton carried 16 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 27 career touchdowns in 27 games, including 25 rushing. He is 10 rushing touchdowns behind UM all-time leader Stephen McGuire, who has 35.
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Walton averaged 9.2 yards a carry, but his backup, sophomore Travis Homer, was pretty spectacular, too. Homer added 103 yards on 11 carries for a 9.4-yards-a-carry average.
With Rosier’s 43 yards on four carries and Trayone Gray’s three carries for 25 yards, Gray’s first carries since missing 2016 after reconstructive knee surgery, UM’s runners averaged a combined 9.3 yards a carry.
“Early on you could see he was pretty hyped up,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said of Walton. “I think he was looking for contact more than looking to make somebody miss. He was really wanting to finish runs and run through people.
“Then, as the game went on, he used a little bit more of his running instincts and made some better decisions… He’s a tough kid.’’
Walton’s seventh career 100-yard game moved him into a tie with Tyrone Moss (2003-06) for the ninth-most 100-yard rushing games in Miami history.
“I saw my family today in the stands and that’s all that matters,’’ Walton said. “I was missing one, but I wasn’t trying to get too emotional…Our offensive line did a great job picking up key blocks and giving us running lanes.’’
Walton, who went into the locker room with trainer Vinny Scavo before halftime, said he “tweaked’’ one of his knees but that he didn’t need ice after the game and he was fine. UM’s flagship station, 560 WQAM, reported that he had a bruised knee.
▪ UM’s offensive line did not give up a sack. UM’s only sack was by end Demetrius Jackson.
▪ Redshirt junior receiver Darrell Langham recorded a career-best three catches for 65 yards Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Lawrence Cager, coming off a torn ACL, added three catches for 47 yards and his second career touchdown.
▪ Sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman led the Miami defense with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and quarterback hurry. Freshman safety Amari Carter forced his first career fumble in the fourth quarter. It was recovered by lineman Ryan Fines.
▪ The Canes have a new tradition: the turnover chain. Whoever gets a turnover wears on the sideline a huge, gold-colored metal chain with a giant green-and-orange U hanging from it – until it’s time to go back into the game. Malek Young, who had an interception, was the first recipient.
▪ With a 27-yard field goal in the first half and 50-yarder in the second, senior Michael Badgley now has 62 career field goals, 11 behind UM all-time leader Carlos Huerta (1988-91), who has 73.