University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes rout Bethune-Cookman in weather-shortened season opener

Miami Hurricanes tight end Standish Dobard (5) celebrates after scoring on a touchdown reception in the first quarter as the University of Miami hosts Bethune Cookman at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, September 5, 2015.
Miami Hurricanes tight end Standish Dobard (5) celebrates after scoring on a touchdown reception in the first quarter as the University of Miami hosts Bethune Cookman at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, September 5, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Just when the season opener got electric Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium, the University of Miami and opponent Bethune-Cookman were rushed off the field for 75 minutes because of lightning.

How’s that for wacky?

The sparks that ultimately flew in the weather-shortened game were those by the Hurricanes in their 45-0 victory over the Wildcats.

It was UM’s first shutout since the 2010 opener against Florida A&M, another 45-0 win against another Football Championship Subdivision team.

“I think we played hard,’’ UM coach Al Golden said. “It’s hard to get a shutout, no matter what.’’

The Canes scored 21 points in two minutes and five seconds in the second quarter, and rolled from there in the final two quarters that were cut to 10 minutes apiece.

Contributions came from young and old, including true freshman tailback Mark Walton, who rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries for an 8.5-yards-per-carry debut.

Sophomore Trayone Gray added 77 yards and a touchdown on eight carries — 9.6 yards per carry.

“It feels great to be a Cane,’’ said Walton, who called running through the smoke “a dream come true.’’

Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya completed 16 of 27 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked once.

“Just gotta get better,’’ Kaaya said. “As an offense, we took advantage of the turnovers the defense caused. We were good in the red zone, eliminated penalties … did a good job just taking care of the ball and eliminating bad ball.’’

Senior receiver Rashawn Scott and junior safety Rayshawn Jenkins — who each missed last season with injuries — had nights to remember. Scott caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Jenkins had an interception that led to a UM touchdown.

The Canes defense had five sacks and two interceptions (the other by Artie Burns) and held the Wildcats to 73 total yards.

And be assured that junior cornerback Corn Elder, who didn’t return punts last season, will be doing it now.

At 7:04 p.m., as officials were convening to nullify what appeared to be a dazzling punt return for a touchdown by Elder, lightning struck at Sun Life. The video board suddenly read: “Due to lightning in the area, the referee has suspended play. Please proceed to the stadium concourses for shelter.’’

The referee announced that Elder’s supposed 70-yard gem did not count because teammate Herb Waters was attempting to wave off a return after the punt bounced toward Elder, who scooped it up and cut toward the middle before sprinting to the end zone.

What the jubilant fans believed was a 16-0 UM lead with 9:18 left in the first half was instead a 10-0 lead. (Elder came back with a vengeance in the second quarter, adding a couple yards for a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown — and this time it counted.)

After both teams exited the field at the direction of the referee, the crowd of 43,467 soon followed.

When the game resumed at 8:19 p.m., here’s how it unfurled:

The Hurricanes took seven minutes to drive down the field on their first possession, culminating in a 5-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass to tight end Standish Dobard — the first of UM’s season and of Dobard’s career.

UM led 7-0 with 6:42 left in the opening quarter.

Though Kaaya completed 8 of 11 passes for 52 yards and the touchdown on that drive, the Canes did not come away unscathed. Receiver Stacy Coley injured what UM said was his left ankle on a swing-pass play from Kaaya. Then, later in the drive, fellow receiver Braxton Berrios sustained a left knee injury on a third-and-3 pass that Kaaya threw low and short and Berrios twisted in attempting the catch.

Berrios tore the anterior cruciate ligament of the other knee in the Under-Armour All-American game in January 2014. The diagnosis of his injury Saturday was not revealed during the game.

Walton made his first college run toward the end of UM’s first scoring drive, then highlighted the second drive with runs of 3, 11, 17 and 5 yards. Michael Badgley’s 25-yard field goal put the Canes up 10-0 at 12:21 of the second quarter.

The teams finally took the field at 8:15 p.m. and Hurricane sparks flew again.

Miami went three-and-out, stopped Bethune, then took over — scoring its three touchdowns in a little more than two minutes.

A 26-yard flea flicker from Kaaya to Walton to Kaaya to Scott highlighted the five-play, 76-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard fade pass for a touchdown to Scott. UM led 17-0 on Scott’s first touchdown since Oct. 20, 2012, vs. Florida State.

On the ensuing drive, Jenkins made his first interception since Nov. 2, 2013, at FSU. The pick at the BC-U 35 enabled Joseph Yearby to sprint 25 yards down the middle two plays later and dive into the end zone for a 24-0 lead with 2:21 left in the half.

Then, Elder dazzled again, this time with his 72-yard return for a touchdown to make it 31-0.

UM made it 38-0 on a 5-yard plunge by Walton with 2:14 left in the third quarter and 45-0 on Gray’s 1-yard score.

“I was waiting on that for the longest [time],’’ Walton said of his first touchdown. “Just unbelievable.’’

Backup quarterback Malik Rosier also got into the game, as well as backup center Hunter Knighton, who almost died last year from complications following heat stroke.

UM meets FAU (0-1) at 8p.m. Friday in Boca Raton.

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