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Freshman lifts Miami again

Javarris James rushes for 111 yards, including a 62-yard score, in a 27-7 win over North Carolina.

By MICHAEL SNYDER
Published October 8, 2006


MIAMI - Another week, another big game for Javarris James, another win for the Hurricanes.

The freshman broke open a close game with a 62-yard touchdown run as Miami beat North Carolina 27-7 before 29,621 at the Orange Bowl.

A week after gaining 148 yards in a 14-13 win over Houston, James gained 111 on 16 carries against a team that entered with the sixth-worst run defense in Division I-A (217.3 yards per game).

The big play that disappeared from Miami's offense last season finally returned courtesy of James, who is quickly becoming known for something besides being former Miami star Edgerrin James' cousin.

"I've been very fortunate to be around some great backs, and I think Javarris is a lot like Edgerrin," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "He's like his cousin in the way he runs, the way he carries that ball. And it's no surprise to me."

Up 17-7 in the third, James took a handoff, cut right and wasn't touched as he danced along the sideline until he was inside the 5 for the touchdown.

"(James) has that ability and gives us that ability to bring a big running attack," said quarterback Kyle Wright, who was 13-of-21 for 143 yards. "He can provide us with a big, explosive run every time he has the ball. We have not had that in the last few years."

Despite facing a team that had lost its past two ACC games by a combined 87-17, the Hurricanes started slowly.

Miami (3-2, 1-1 ACC) resorted to trickery to go up 7-0. After getting the ball at the North Carolina's 37, Wright lateraled the ball to Lovon Ponder, usually a free safety. Ponder, who hasn't played quarterback since he was 6, tossed a perfect spiral to Sam Shields, who had plenty of space to catch the ball in stride and score.

"First, I looked to see if Lance (Leggett) was open, and he wasn't," Ponder said. "And when I looked downfield, Sam was open. (The defenders) pointed at me, but I don't think that they expected anything. Every day in practice, I come out and throw the ball around. One time, I threw the ball maybe 70 yards. So Coach told me he was going to try to use me."

On the next series, Ponder stopped a trick play by the Tar Heels (1-4, 0-3) when he knocked down a flea flicker pass in the end zone.

Down 10-0, the Tar Heels rebounded. A 37-yard pass from Cam Sexton to Hakeem Nicks set up a 2-yard plunge by Ronnie McGill.

Miami went up 17-7 at halftime on a 1-yard run by Charlie Jones. The key plays were completions of 26 and 14 yards to tight end Greg Olsen. Olson had his best game of the season with eight catches for 95 yards after coming in with 10 for 90 yards.

"We're showing signs," Wright said. "There are a lot of things to be optimistic about."

At the top of the list is James, who is the first Miami freshman with consecutive 100-yard games since Clinton Portis in 1999.

"You can't just go out and bust a long (run)," James said. "It takes time. The coaches kept telling me to keep working, keep working, you'll get your chance.

"And I got my chance."