Duke Johnson, who rushed for 184 yards in Miami’s home victory over Georgia Tech last year, looked like he might be headed to an encore Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The speedy junior ran for a 24-yard touchdown on the last play of the first quarter and ended the opening period with 70 yards on just six carries.
With Georgia Tech controlling the ball, though, Johnson had just eight carries for 30 yards the rest of the way in UM’s 28-17 loss.
Johnson did catch three passes for 52 yards to go with his 100 yards rushing.
Johnson, who last week against Duke became just the third Hurricane to reach the 4,000 milestone in career all-purpose yards, went into the game needing 131 yards to tie Clinton Portis (2,523) for fourth on Miami’s career rushing list.
Ottis Anderson leads the all-time list with 3,331 yards, Edgerrin James had 2,960, and James Jackson finished with 2,953.
The Hurricanes’ return to Atlanta marked a milestone in wide receiver Malcolm Lewis’ comeback from a dislocated and broken left ankle.
Lewis, who started Saturday night against Georgia Tech, had his ankle twist gruesomely after catching a first-quarter pass during Miami’s last visit in 2012 as a freshman and missed the rest of that season.
Coach Al Golden tried to comfort the fallen player as teammates, noticeably upset, knelt in prayer before Lewis was finally carted off.
The injury occurred at the same end of Bobby Dodd Stadium where Lewis made a 24-yard reception this time to set up a third-quarter field goal by the Hurricanes. He also had a 6-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
Lewis caught just seven passes last year but has seen regular duty this season. He had five catches and scored a touchdown at Nebraska, then had four grabs last week against Duke.
The Hurricanes took a 19-0 lead in that 2012 game against Georgia Tech but had to rally late to force overtime before eventually winning 42-36.
Senior Jon Feliciano moved to right tackle to replace injured Taylor Gadbois, and freshman Nick Linder started at left guard in place of Feliciano against Georgia Tech in the short-handed Miami offensive line.
Freshman Kc McDermott, who had been backing up Gadbois, also has a knee injury. Both are out indefinitely, with McDermott’s parents saying Saturday he has a second MRI scheduled this week.
The particulars of the injuries to Gadbois and McDermott have not been disclosed. McDermott is the brother of starting senior center Shane McDermott.
Linder, like the younger McDermott a highly touted recruit, is the brother of former Hurricane standout and Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Brandon Linder.
Linder had plenty of good moments in his first start, and the revamped line held its own against the Yellow Jackets until two fourth-quarter sacks.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Miami freshman defensive end Chad Thomas sustained an injury with 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and left the game. Thomas is a backup for senior starter Anthony Chickillo.
Reserve defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu was injured with about seven minutes left on the next Georgia Tech possession but left under his own power.
▪ Former UM and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, his cancer in remission, will be honorary captain for the Hurricanes’ homecoming game against North Carolina on Nov.1.
The game has been declared a “Kelly Tough Green Out,” and fans are encouraged to wear green to the game to show their support in the fight against cancer.
Kelly, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, joined the UM football ring of honor in 2008 after being inducted into the Hurricanes Sports Hall of Fame earlier.