Hurricanes maul Tigers in home opener

Sophomore cornerback Trajan Bandy celebrates with the new-look Turnover Chain at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo by Josh White

Hard Rock Stadium erupted with cheers. The Hurricanes faithful got their wish.

Redshirt freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry stormed onto the field to make his collegiate debut. Head coach Mark Richt made the change under center after veteran Malik Rosier guided the Hurricanes to a 21-0 lead.

Richt shuffled the quarterbacks throughout the contest as No. 22 Miami snapped its four-game losing skid, dating back to last season, and dominated the Savannah State Tigers 77-0. The scoring outbreak tied a program record previously set against the same Tigers in 2013 when the Hurricanes picked up a 77-7 win.

“Winning is a lot more fun than losing,” Richt said. “We had lost four in a row, as everybody knows and sometimes, people want to help remind us of that. I don’t blame them. But it was good to get a victory today.”

Rosier played just the first five drives and finished 8-for-12 for 131 yards and three total touchdowns. Perry completed 9-of-14 passes and notched 93 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Reserve quarterbacks Cade Weldon and Jarren Williams also took snaps, making their debuts in the second half, both scoring rushing touchdowns.

“They all had their moments,” Richt said. “It’s good to let those guys play. You always want your second team and even third team to be ready… Just to play for the first time, it’s a big deal. Cade and N’Kosi, especially, having to wait a year before they got to get on the field, that’s a long wait, man.”

A week after the Hurricanes (1-1) scored just 17 points against top-25 ranked LSU on national TV, Miami dominated FCS foe Savannah State (0-2). The Canes outgained the Tigers 494-78 in total yards of offense.

Despite the onslaught, Miami’s offense stuttered at first. The Hurricanes failed to score on its first two possessions, including coughing up a fumble. The Hurricanes faithful poured the stadium with loud boos, but Rosier responded.

The redshirt senior capped off an eight-play, 31-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Will Mallory to kickoff the offense outburst.

“Yeah, I did,” Rosier said, when asked if he heard the boos. “Did it bother me? Not really. There’s nothing I can do about it. Coach Richt always says ‘They don’t boo nobodies.’ Whether they boo me or they cheer for me, I’m going to be out there next Saturday, whether they watch or not, I don’t think it’s going to change our offense. If [fans] are disappointed, it’s my job to keep winning, you know? We’ve got a long season. We’ve got some really good teams coming up. So I mean, if I start winning, I doubt they’ll keep booing.

Rosier orchestrated three consecutive scoring drives to end his day before Perry checked in. The Ocala, Fla. native made his impact felt immediately.

Following a Savannah State turnover, Perry led Miami on a six-play, 20-yard scoring drive that ended with a Lawrence Cager eight-yard touchdown reception.

With a 28-0 halftime advantage, the Hurricanes got a chance for their youngsters to shine.

Speedy receiver Jeff Thomas exploded for 183 all-purpose yards and one touchdown, including 90 punt-return yards.

Highly touted freshman Brevin Jordan hauled in seven receptions and two touchdowns. The tight end tallied 52 yards after failing to record a catch a week ago.

Five-star recruit Lorenzo Lingard led the Hurricanes’ rushing attack with 82 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. Lingard entered the game late in the second half after Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas combined for 118 rushing yards.

“Our fans got a chance to see some young guys and I talked to them a little bit after the game, especially the guys that played for the very first time and especially the true freshman,” Richt said. “They kind of dreamed of the day they would come to Hard Rock and get to play and maybe score a touchdown or maybe make a block or a tackle or throw a touchdown pass or run for a touchdown, whatever it is. A lot of guys got to realize that dream and see what it felt like.”

Miami dominated the second half, in a contest where the Hurricanes played 23 true freshman, outscoring Savannah State 49-0.

After failing to secure a turnover in its first contest, Miami’s defense forced four takeaways. The Hurricanes broke out their new three-kilogram “Sebastian the Ibis” Turnover Chain in front of the 60,307 fans in attendance.

“It felt great, especially to have it here at Hard Rock in front of our fans,” linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said, who registered five tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. “Last week was grueling for everybody. We know that we’re not the only ones that felt it, and I hope the fans know they weren’t the only ones that felt it. Having a big win here, it really means a lot for us.”

With the victory, Miami has won 10 consecutive regular season home games dating back to Oct. 15, 2016.

The Hurricanes will head back on the road to take on the Toledo Rockets 12 p.m. Sept. 15 at Glass Bowl Stadium.