Almost exactly a year to the day of Saturday’s match at Sun Life, the Hurricanes fell to the Cornhuskers in a 41-31 shootout in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Canes have many new faces on both sides of the ball this year, but the team is still determined to make up for that disappointing loss.
“We’re more disciplined now. We’re stronger at the point of attack,” redshirt senior safety Dallas Crawford said.
That better be the case for the Canes if they don’t want a repeat of last year’s grisly performance on defense. The Cornhuskers moved the ball at will against the Hurricanes, racking up 456 total yards and 27 first downs. Miami countered with 435 yards and 24 first downs, but late turnovers and a certain running back now in the NFL dashed all hopes of a road win in front of a record 91,585 fans at Memorial Stadium.
Ameer Abdullah, now a member of the Detroit Lions, gashed Miami for 229 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Duke Johnson had a solid effort with 93 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries, but his fumble late in the third quarter gave the Cornhuskers all the momentum they needed to close out the game in the fourth.
With 2:38 remaining in the third quarter and the Canes trailing 24-21, Johnson had the ball squirt out of his arms only to be scooped up and returned for a 57-yard touchdown by the Cornhuskers. It was the first fumble of the season for Johnson, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Miami’s all-time leading rusher.
The game got heated after the fumble. Quarterback Brad Kaaya was leveled on the next drive by Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine. The officials called a roughing-the-passer penalty on the low hit, and Hurricanes left tackle Ereck Flowers wrestled with Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory on the ground. Both players received offsetting penalties, but the tone was set for a chippy fourth quarter.
Midway through the fourth and Nebraska leading 34-24, Kaaya threw his second interception of the game. Gregory took the opportunity to knock down Kaaya as the quarterback ran toward the play. Hurricanes offensive linemen Shane McDermott and Taylor Gadbois fought the defensive end now on the Dallas Cowboys, resulting in two personal fouls on Miami.
Abdullah capitalized on the turnover with a 10-yard touchdown run to effectively end the game. Gregory wasn’t finished though, as he strip-sacked Kaaya on the ensuing drive to add further humiliation on a devastating night for the Canes.
Miami (2-0) has focused on moving past last year’s failures and is just worrying about this season, but the team hasn’t forgotten the crushing feeling Nebraska (1-1) left in Lincoln a year ago. Watch the Canes try to exact revenge on the Cornhuskers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.