Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby were part of what many consider the greatest backfield duo in Miami-Dade County high school football history.
Plenty of hype leading to Saturday’s UM-FSU game surrounded their first matchup as college starting running backs.
But Cook’s participation remained uncertain until just before kickoff because of a hamstring injury.
Then, Cook not only played, but he also turned the rushing duel between the sophomores into a one-sided rout.
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Two long touchdowns — one rushing and one receiving — gave the Seminoles control of the game and a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
He scored a third touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give FSU a 29-24 lead. The 23-yard run put him over 200 yards rushing for the game, and he finished with 222 yards on 22 carries.
“It’s a great feeling," Cook said. “It’s something you can’t describe. To score the winning touchdown and watch the defense stop them, it felt great.”
Cook didn’t show any ill-effects from a left hamstring injury sustained against Wake Forest last week. He posted his eighth career game of more than 100 yards, and second against the Hurricanes.
Cook’s 137 rushing yards in the first half were a season high.
Yearby struggled in the first half, gaining only 13 yards on eight carries.
The difference between the two teams’ rushing production was as staggering as their rushing leaders.
UM was outgained on the ground 167-2 by halftime.
The Hurricanes had minus-3 yards rushing after the first quarter. FSU had 90, mostly from Cook’s touchdown run.
Cook (5-11, 202 pounds) and Yearby (5-9, 202), a tandem that resembled one another in stature and in production throughout a high school career that produced two state championships and a state runner-up appearance, weren’t too far apart in statistics entering Saturday’s game.
Cook came in with 66 carries for 570 yards and six touchdowns, and was ranked eighth nationally with 142.5 yards per game and fifth with his 8.64 yards-per-carry average.
Yearby entered the game ranked 30th nationally with 106 yards per game and ninth with his 7.31 yards-per-carry average. He had 58 carries for 424 yards and four touchdowns before Saturday.
After being used mainly as a decoy the first three plays of the game, Cook made an impact on his first touch, taking an option pitch from FSU quarterback Everett Golson and speeding 72 yards to the end zone.
On the play, Golson rolled to his left and held the ball until the last possible second, forcing the Hurricanes to commit, then pitched it to Cook, who cut inside and broke away untouched.
Cook later showed the same versatility that made him a perfect complement to Yearby in high school when he caught a short pass from Golson and turned into a 36-yard touchdown.
The only thing that slowed down Cook was a cramp with 9:46 remaining in the second quarter that kept a 35-yard run up the middle from potentially becoming a third first-half score. Cook sped through Miami’s defense on the play before noticeably slowing down, and then getting caught from behind.
With UM relying heavily on its passing game, Yearby found a way into the end zone that way.
He finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brad Kaaya to cut the Seminoles’ lead to 20-17 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.