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'Canes easily extend unbeaten streak (27)

MIAMI 48, UCONN 14: Hurricanes score early and often, leading 42-0 at half.

By CHUCK MULLING
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 6, 2002


photo
[AP photo]
Hurricanes running back Willis McGahee out runs the last Connecticut tackler for the first touchdown of the game.
MIAMI -- In case anyone thought the Hurricanes were getting bored at the top, along comes Saturday night as evidence they enjoy a rout.

The Hurricanes seemingly flexed their muscles whenever they felt like it, and Connecticut felt the squeeze.

Miami rolled to an easy 48-14 win at the Orange Bowl, unleashing Willis McGahee, Ken Dorsey and about anyone else who touched the ball.

McGahee scored three touchdowns in little more than a quarter, and Dorsey threw three touchdowns as the top-ranked Hurricanes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 27.

The Hurricanes raced to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter and were up 42-0 at halftime, leaving little doubt this was a tuneup for Saturday's game against No.11 Florida State at the Orange Bowl.

"This was an excellent win for our football team," coach Larry Coker said. "You never know how you're going to play, but we were outstanding in the first half. The game was pretty much over at halftime."

McGahee put up strong numbers in the first half, scoring on touchdown runs of 15, 15 and 11 yards. The defense joined the scoring, as defensive tackle Andrew Williams of Tampa returned a fumble 56 yards for a touchdown.

McGahee rushed for 100-plus yards for a fourth straight game, finishing with 107 yards on 11 carries. Miami's coaches did a better job of stopping McGahee than UConn, as he sat out most of the second and returned for one series in the second half.

"The offensive line did the job tonight," said McGahee, who had five carries of 10 yards or more. "I'm their robot. They control me. I go wherever I see a light."

Dorsey finished the half strong, throwing a pair of touchdowns to Kevin Beard and connecting with Ethenic Sands for a touchdown to open the second half.

Now 31-1 as a starter, Dorsey, who completed 19-of-26 for 216 yards, turned his focus on FSU and said those discounting the Seminoles should think again.

"Florida State is never down," Dorsey said. "They are a powerhouse year in and year out. They are a quality team with quality athletes, and we expect nothing but their best on Saturday."

The Hurricanes finished with 498 total yards to 190 for UConn.

McGahee was not the only benefactor of UM's run-oriented offensive line. Jason Geathers carried nine times for 86 yards as the 'Canes had 214 yards rushing.

"To me, they are the No. 1 team in the country, far and away," coach Randy Edsall said. "I think they will probably run the table and be national champs again. We had trouble tackling them and handling their speed."

It was McGahee's show early.

After a blocked punt by Sean Taylor, the Hurricanes set up on UConn's 17. McGahee then took it in to put UM ahead 7-0 with 12:04 left in the first.

Miami's next drive ended with McGahee's second touchdown run, another 15-yard romp to push the lead to 14-0.

McGahee finished Miami's third possession with an 11-yard run to make it 21-0 13 seconds into the second quarter.

Miami's defense provided the next score. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork sacked Dan Orlovsky, jarring the ball loose, and Williams ran untouched 56 yards for 28-0 with 12:15 left in the half.

There were a few mental meltdowns. Dorsey was greedy on one drive, throwing toward the end zone only to have it intercepted by cornerback Roy Hopkins at the 2. On UConn's ensuing punt from its end zone, Sands fumbled and Jason Dellaselva recovered for the Huskies at UConn's 46.

Dorsey's 5-yarder to Beard put Miami up 35-0, and an 8-yard Dorsey-to-Beard hookup made it 42-0 at halftime.

The shutout disappeared as UConn struck for two touchdowns in a 1:26 span in the third and fourth quarters.

Orlovsky hit Tommy Collins for a 14-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the third, and another Miami mistake led to UConn's next touchdown. The Huskies blocked a punt, with Ezra Carey returning it 5 yards for a touchdown with 14:04 left.

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