September 23, 2017
In the first half, the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes looked like a team that was feeling the effects of a three-week break in the season.
But in the second half, the Canes shook off the rust with authority to score 28 unanswered points, leading to a 52-30 win over the Toledo Rockets on Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
Led again by junior running back Mark Walton and redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier, it was the day of career-highs for Miami.
Walton had himself a monster day, rushing for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. To make his stats even more impressive, he did not play for the majority of the second and third quarters because of an ankle injury he sustained in the second quarter. He got the ankle taped up, and in the fourth period, returned and continued to dominate with multiple double-digit runs.
Rosier completed 27 of his 36 passes for a career-high 333 yards and three touchdowns to just one interception. He also rushed for 11 yards and the key touchdown in the fourth quarter that halted a late Toledo run and stretched the lead to double digits. The score all but sealed the win for Miami.
UM (2-0) overcame a high-powered Toledo (3-1) offense that racked up 296 yards in the first half alone.
Talented Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside and the Rockets’ offense found holes in the Hurricanes’ defense early and often, and led 16-10 at halftime. But something clearly clicked for the Canes at start of the third quarter.
Miami scored on back-to-back drives, one on a 12-yard touchdown rush by sophomore running back Travis Homer and the other on a 10-yard touchdown catch by redshirt junior receiver Dayall Harris.
UM took a lead as large as 22 points when it was up 38-16 in the fourth quarter but allowed Toledo to get back into the game with 14 unanswered points of its own – one that came after a turnover by Rosier.
The Canes remained composed and scored twice more on their way to victory.
Despite participating in warmups, All-ACC wide receiver Ahmmon Richards did not play in his second-straight game of the season. But for the second consecutive game, Miami showed the talent and depth it has at the receiver position.
Senior wideout Braxton Berrios led the bunch, pulling in five receptions for a career-high 105 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps his most impactful play, besides the score, came on a 55-yard reception early in the third quarter.
The Canes were leading by just one, and Rosier had gotten sacked the previous play. On the very next snap, Berrios caught a short pass, pulled a spin move and outran the Rocket defenders all the way to the 10-yard line where he was finally tackled. He bounced right back up and celebrated. The play ignited the crowd, and Miami would score a touchdown on the following snap.
Senior tight end Christopher Herndon IV added 65 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
Miami’s defense struggled for the majority of the contest, giving up 342 yards passing and three touchdowns to Woodside. It also allowed the Toledo offense to go 13-23 on third downs, a stat that no defensive coordinator would be happy with.
However, UM did collect four sacks – two of which came from senior defensive end Trent Harris – and got enough pressure on Woodside at just the right time to protect its lead.
Miami will next travel to Durham, North Carolina, to face off against the Duke Blue Devils at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.
– With his first-half scoring run, Walton now has 26 rushing touchdowns total for his career at Miami, tying him for fifth on the all-time list with Duke Johnson, Melvin Bratton and Tyrone Moss. He now has 28 total touchdowns in 28 games played.
– Walton becomes just the fifth running back in Miami history to eclipse 200 yards rushing in a game.
– Walton had his eighth career 100-plus yard rushing game, tying him with Frank Gore for eighth all-time in Miami history.
– Walton’s 82-yard rush in the first quarter was a career-high.
– Rosier has now thrown for multiple touchdowns in all three of his starts at Miami.
– UM’s defense got a key stop early in the second quarter. The Toledo offense had marched down to the Miami one-yard line, but the Canes showed grit, stuffing the Rockets on three-straight possessions to force a fourth down and a field goal.