Hurricanes get first win of season in offense-driven performance

Tight end Larry Hodges holds up two fingers after scoring his second touchdown of the game. Photo credit: Josh Halper

The Canes desperately needed a win, and they got one in a big way.

Miami (1-2) dominated the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (1-1) on both sides of the ball to come away with a 63-0 win Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium

Led by running back DeeJay Dallas’s career high three rushing touchdowns, the Canes generated 590 total yards of offense.

“I pride myself on trying to spark the offense, on trying to get the offense jump-started,” Dallas said.

Dallas rushed for 108 yards on 12 attempts. His performance marked his third straight game with 100+ all-purpose yards.

DeeJay Dallas runs down the field for a 51 yard touchdown, the longest of his career. Photo credit: Josh Halper

“I think that he is a guy that you want to build the identity of your offense around,” head coach Manny Diaz said. “The fact that he can get behind our offensive line, whether it’s in the dirty four or if he wants to break it long, shows that he has great versatility.

Dallas scored the first touchdown of the game, running the ball in from the one yard line after a successful 33-yard drive down the field, including a 14-yard pass from quarterback Jarren Williams to receiver KJ Osborn.

Early in the second quarter, true freshman left tackle Zion Nelson made an impressive block to allow Dallas to escape up the left side, resulting in a 51-yard touchdown run, the longest of the season.

The Canes were able to overcome a relatively slow start when they scored two more touchdowns in the remaining two minutes before halftime. Miami went up by 21-0 on Dallas’s third touchdown of the game with one minute to go before halftime and then snuck in a fourth touchdown with three seconds left in the second quarter on a 22-yard strike to Osborn, who had four receptions for 58 yards.

Despite the 28-0 lead going into halftime, Williams said he felt like the team started off slow, but picked up the pace going into the second half.

“I kind of felt a little lackadaisical,” Williams said. “We were just kind of dragging our feet a little bit. The guys realized we needed to step it up.”

And step it up they did, as the Canes opened the third quarter with a 32-yard touchdown reception to Mike Harley, the first of his career.

The Canes pushed the lead to 42-0 when Williams found tight end Larry Hodges in the back of the end zone following a seven play, 40-yard drive featuring passes to receivers Jeff Thomas and Mark Pope.

Tight end Larry Hodges holds up two fingers after scoring his second touchdown of the game. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Pope, who had his first breakout game this season, went down hard in the third quarter after being tackled on a 21-yard carry and had to be helped off the field. Pope had a career high three catches, 113 all-purpose yards and a career long 54 yard reception.

“We kind of had a feeling that he would be one-on-one with a chance for an explosive play,” Diaz said in reference to the 54-yard catch. “We knew Mark [Pope’s] day was coming.”

Running back Cam’Ron Harris got in on the scoring action to start the fourth quarter. The one-yard run by Harris put the Canes up 48-0.

N’Kosi Perry, who entered the game late in the third quarter, scored his first touchdown of the season on a two-yard completion to Hodges.

The last, but perhaps most exciting score of the game came from back-up running back Jimmy Murphy, who’s exuberant celebration was given a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I give it a 10 out of 10,” Williams said on Murphy’s celebration, which featured a front flip. “We got a lot of love for Jimmy Murphy. He’s an inspiration to all of us.”

As a former walk-on, current redshirt senior, Murphy said he was humbled by his first career touchdown for the Hurricanes.

Manny Diaz looks on as he gets his first win as the Hurricanes head coach. Photo credit: Josh Halper

“It wasn’t just for me, it was for the Canes community,” Murphy said. “It’s bigger than me, I just love being a hurricane and I love doing it with my boys.”

Defensively, the highlight of the game came from safety Robert Knowles, who debuted the 305 turnover chain for the first time at Hard Rock Stadium after recovering a fumble at the end of the second quarter.

In the second start of his career, Knowles recorded two tackles in addition to the fumble recovery.

“I thought he made an outstanding play,” Diaz said about Knowles. “There is something about getting the turnover that is a great reward for him and all the hard work he has done.”

Thanks to the win, the Canes have a newfound sense of confidence. Diaz and the team will look to even their record next week when they face Central Michigan at Hard Rock Stadium.

“I think we have confidence now that we have a win,” Diaz said. “Now we have a chance to improve, move on and try to get this feeling week in and week out.”