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'Canes rally late for 30 wins in row

RB Willis McGahee reaches 1,000 yards in 42-17 win over Rutgers.

©Associated Press
November 3, 2002


photo
[AP photo]
Miami running back Willis McGahee stiff-arms Rutgers' Nathan Jones on a long run at Rutgers Stadium.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Hurricanes are making a habit of playing close games.

For the third time in as many games, top-ranked Miami had to rally to win. This time, Rutgers took a 17-14 lead into the fourth before Ken Dorsey led the Hurricanes to a 42-17 victory Saturday.

Despite injuring his non-throwing hand, Dorsey had a 20-yard TD to Andre Johnson early in the fourth, then added a 1-yard TD pass to Kellen Winslow.

The 'Canes added two touchdowns in the final eight minutes to push their winning streak to 30, a school record.

"I don't think we ever thought we were going to lose the game," coach Larry Coker said.

Willis McGahee added 187 yards rushing and two scores for Miami, becoming the seventh back in school history to reach 1,000 yards in a season, though he re-injured a toe on his right foot. He has 1,034 yards, sixth in school history. Edgerrin James has the record, 1,416 in 1998.

Miami struggled for three quarters, much like against West Virginia and Florida State. Last week, the Hurricanes were tied at 17 with the Mountaineers in the third before winning 40-23. Against Florida State, Miami won 28-27 when Xavier Beitia missed a 43-yard field goal on the final play.

"We always seem to pull things out at the end of games," center Brett Romberg said. "At the end, (Rutgers) seemed to fall apart."

Miami topped the school record for consecutive victories set by Dennis Erickson's teams. Back then the 'Canes won 29 straight from Oct. 27, 1990 until they were beaten by Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1993.

Dorsey, who left for one play in the third to have his left wrist bandaged, kept his composure after struggling throughout. The senior is the Big East career leader with 78 touchdowns, topping Donovan McNabb's Syracuse mark from 1995-98. He also set the league record for completions, breaking Marc Bulger's record. He finished 16-of-31 for 192 yards and left in the fourth, but he said his wrist is "just fine."

"When you're not ahead in the fourth quarter, that's a pretty good indication that you're in danger of not winning," Dorsey said. "We had to really make sure to fight back and really start executing."

The turning point could have been Rutgers' fake field-goal attempt with about three minutes left in the third. With a 17-14 lead, Ryan Sands lined up for a 27-yard field goal on fourth and 5.

But holder Sean Carty tried to run for the first down. He was stopped by Jonathan Vilma for no gain, and Rutgers lost a chance to extend its lead.

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