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Johnson's 199 yards good for share of MVP

The quiet receiver's seven catches and two touchdowns set personal and UM bowl records.

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 4, 2002

PASADENA, Calif. -- This wasn't Michael Irvin scoring a touchdown in the Orange Bowl and tossing his helmet in joy. This was better.

This wasn't Randal Hill catching a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl and showboating through a stadium tunnel. This was better.

As the Hurricanes notched their fifth national championship with a 37-14 victory over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl Thursday night, Andre Johnson put on a clinic. Johnson, a sophomore from Miami Senior High, set a personal best and a school record for a bowl game by catching seven passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving yards eclipsed Santana Moss' mark of 141 set in UM's 46-23 win over North Carolina State in the 1998 Micron P.C. Bowl.

Ken Dorsey completed 22 of 35 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, and he and Johnson shared MVP honors.

Johnson had 160 yards by the half as Miami pummeled the Huskers before the break.

"We got it done," Johnson said. "It's got to be the best feeling in the world. Right now I can't describe it. ... I've been working hard all week. We had one of our receivers (Ethenic Sands) out so I was determined to pick up the slack. I knew Dorsey would put the ball in the right place."

Unlike the brashness displayed by Irvin, Hill and other Miami receivers such as Brian Blades and Lamar Thomas, Johnson let his play do all the talking. "I wasn't talking (any) trash," Johnson said. "I'm not the kind of guy to talk trash. If someone says something to me, I might respond."

After Miami's first two drives ended in a punt and an interception by Dorsey, Johnson began the scoring barrage.

Nebraska's Eric Crouch was crunched by linebacker D.J. Williams and fumbled, and defensive end William Joseph recovered for Miami at Nebraska's 49.

Johnson needed just one play after that. With double coverage in the middle of the field and a defensive back fallen to the ground, Johnson was open down the right side. Dorsey laid out the ball perfectly. Touchdown, and the rout was on.

"It was pretty nice," Dorsey said. "I thought I put too much on it."

It was Johnson's 11th career touchdown reception from Dorsey, making him the quarterback's favorite target. Later, he'd add his 12th. "One reason why Andre had success is because he's a hell of a player," Dorsey said. "I just wanted to make sure every ball was catchable. ... Andre stepped up huge. I was looking at the stat sheet and didn't even realize he had 199 yards. That's incredible."

The 'Canes were ahead 27-0 when Dorsey found Johnson in the front of the end zone from 8 yards, just inside of DeJuan Groce's tight coverage. Johnson made a 24-yard catch on third and 17 to keep that drive alive.

"We knew he could be (successful) because of the coverages they run out there," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "Andre got open and Ken made some phenomenal throws, and certainly Andre capitalized on it."

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