Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins game a happy homecoming for locally bred Colts

Former Coral Gables High and University of Miami star running back Frank Gore, left, who led the Colts to an 18-12 victory over the Dolphins in his hometown, laughs with Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon after Sunday’s game.
Former Coral Gables High and University of Miami star running back Frank Gore, left, who led the Colts to an 18-12 victory over the Dolphins in his hometown, laughs with Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon after Sunday’s game. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Colts did in the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. And after the game, the Sun Life Stadium visitors’ locker room burst with the shouts and cackles of old friends reconnecting if only for a moment.

Running back Frank Gore of Coral Gables High and the University of Miami greeted some South Florida media with friendly handshake-shoulder bumps. Former UM and Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne knelt as if hiding from ex-Canes teammate Andre Johnson as the former Miami High star receiver talked with the media.

Miami natives Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton, two of the many Colts either from South Florida or with Miami connections, speak after Indianapolis beat the Dolphins 18-12 on Dec. 27, 2015 in what was the first NFL game in Miami for each.

“It’s always fun,” Johnson said of playing in Miami. “Guys working security on our door, I went to middle school with. You get to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in years. I was a huge Dolphins fan growing up, always had dreams of playing in this stadium.”

Gore ran for 85 yards on 14 carries, including touchdowns of 37 and 11 yards on which the Dolphins defense looked as helpless to stop him as high school defenses did in the late 1990s.

The only Dolphins touchdown came from Lamar Miller, out of Miami Killian High and UM, who Gore considers akin to a younger brother.

Miami Springs High and FIU product T.Y. Hilton’s four catches for 64 yards led the Colts in both categories and probably conjured ponderings on tight end Michael Egnew’s current whereabouts.

Johnson caught three passes for 39 yards, and 2015 first-round pick Phillip Dorsett out of UM caught two passes for 29 yards. On the Dolphins’ final drive, Coral Springs Charter graduate Darius Butler batted away a potential game-winning touchdown pass.

Indianapolis’ first touchdown drive started with a Brent Grimes penalty for holding Hilton and ended with Dorsett’s 22-yard reception and Gore’s 37-yard touchdown run. The first two plays after third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst entered the game for the injured Matt Hasselbeck: Whitehurst to Johnson for 11 yards on third-and-10 and Gore’s 11-yard touchdown run.

Clearly, the Miami Colts felt at home.

“Just getting back home, getting some of that warm weather,” Hilton said. “Getting off the plane you had that smell. ‘Yeah, I’m home.’ It was kind of cool.”

Nobody felt it more than Gore. Though in his 11th NFL season and already the all-time leading rusher for one franchise (San Francisco), he had never played here during his career.

He missed San Francisco’s 2008 game here with an injury. The Gore contingent in the crowd included 60 people.

“I feel good,” Gore said with a smile afterwards. “It’s been a tough year. I just wanted to come out here and let my fans remember what I’ve been doing since high school. Let them know I still can play and when I get opportunities I can take advantage of them.”

Miami Herald sportswriter Adam H. Beasley reacts to the Miami Dolphins' 18-12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015.

Such as his two touchdown runs, showing Gore’s trademark power and cutting ability. On the first one, Gore eluded tackle attempts by Dolphins safety Reshad Jones and cornerback Michael Thomas before outrunning Jelani Jenkins to the end zone.

“My O-line did a great job of making a hole,” Gore said. “I saw No. 20 [Jones] duck his head, so I put a move, I put my hand down and kept going.”

At the end, as the Colts defense held the Dolphins out of the end zone from the 5-yard line, Hilton and Johnson felt a rush of youth.

“We were just on the sideline talking — ‘When we get this stop, we’re going to rush this field,’ ” Hilton said. “It was kind of cool, running on the field like big kids.”

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments