Miami keeps it close early, but jells in the 2nd half against BC.
By MICHAEL SNYDER
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 22, 2002
MIAMI -- Last year, when Miami was on the verge of losing to Boston College, Willis McGahee was back in Miami paying his cell phone bill.
This year, McGahee answered the call when the Hurricanes needed it most, rushing 17 times for 135 yards and scoring two touchdowns as top-ranked Miami survived a first-half scare from the Eagles before pulling out a 38-6 victory in front of 73,622 at the Orange Bowl on Saturday night. It was Miami's national-best 26th consecutive win and 13th straight over the Eagles.
There was no "Immaculate Deflection" like last year's last-minute, game-sealing play that started when Matt Walters intercepted Brian St. Pierre after the ball bounced off cornerback Mike Rumph's knee and ended when Ed Reed grabbed the ball and ran 80 yards for the touchdown.
But for almost a half, it looked as if the 'Canes (4-0, 2-0) might need another miracle to beat the Eagles (2-1, 0-1).
"I was hurt (last year). I was paying my cell phone bill," McGahee said earlier this week. "I wasn't watching it on TV until Andrew Williams called me and I said "What's happening? They're tripping.' "
The 'Canes almost tripped again, even if the final score doesn't reflect it. The scoreboard only shows how explosive Miami can be.
Miami, which had outscored Boston College by an average of 38-14 in games since 1990 at the Orange Bowl, struggled before blowing out the Eagles.
"Since my freshman year, we've just gotten smacked (at the OB)," Boston College senior center Dan Koppen said. "I can't say exactly why it is or why we play that bad, but we can't live in the past."
But that's what they did, despite Miami leading by only 10-6 at the half.
Quarterback Ken Dorsey struggled early against the defense. And the Eagles seemed content run out the clock and score field goals.
"It's just another day at the office," coach Larry Coker said. "They took us to the limit."
Dorsey finished with 202 yards passing and a pair of TDs to Kellen Winslow and Andre Johnson.
This year's contest seemed to pick up where last year's left off, at least in tempo.
Miami was again out of synch offensively as the Eagles kept the Hurricanes in check. Many of Dorsey's passes were high, low or wobbly.
Miami's first drive resulted in one first down. The second ended in a missed 52-yard field goal by Todd Sievers, his third miss in four attempts dating to last week's game against Temple.
The Eagles, whose only victory on Miami's home turf came in the 1984 "Hail Flutie" thriller, scored first on a 35-yard field goal by Sandro Sciortino 39 seconds into the second quarter. It marked the first time UM has trailed since the first quarter of last year's regular-season finale at Virginia Tech.
The crowd, perhaps sensing this was going to be a lot closer than what the oddsmakers said, was quiet, even when Miami tied it on the next drive with a 20-yard completion from Dorsey to Kellen Winslow and a 16-yard run by McGahee that set up Sievers' 45-yard field goal.
It appeared Miami would get good field position on its next drive after stopping the Eagles on third and 18 at their 6, but D.J. Williams was called for pass interference.
On BC's next drive, Williams was flagged for roughing the passer, which helped set the Eagles for another field goal by Sciortino, from 41 yards out.
Dorsey hit Johnson for 25 yards on first down. Next came a 6-yard pass to Winslow, before McGahee took over. McGahee took the handoff from Dorsey and broke through the middle. He slipped through an arm tackle by safety Doug Bessette, headed to his left and was pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard line. He scored on the next play.
McGahee, who had three catches for 86 yards had a 32-yard run on Miami's first drive of the second half, which helped set up his second TD.
The 'Canes scored three TDs -- the two Dorsey TD passes and a 2-yard fumble recovery by Jonathan Vilma -- in less than three minutes early in the fourth.
From there, the 'Canes made sure there wouldn't be any need for last minute miracles.