Pick keeps teetering Miami from fall

Published October 22, 2006

DURHAM, N.C. - Miami came to Duke embarrassed after getting caught up in one of the worst on-field fights in college football history. The last thing the Hurricanes needed was another reason for shame - a loss to the lowly Blue Devils.

Yet Miami needed a last-second interception at the goal line by backup safety Willie Cooper to dodge Duke's upset bid and beat the Blue Devils 20-15 Saturday in its first game since last week's nasty brawl against Florida International.

"There's a stigma attached to losing" to any opponent, Cooper said. "We came here to win championships. We face Duke like we face anybody else, with the eagerness and the want to win. Losing to anybody would be a downside to us."

Kyle Wright had two touchdown passes to Sam Shields for the Hurricanes, who nearly blew an 18-point lead and were without 13 players suspended for taking part in last week's fight.

"It's still a win, but we have to get a lot better in terms of not breaking down mentally and not making stupid mistakes," Wright said. "Just things that we could have prevented - I don't think it had anything to do with what happened last week."

Winless Duke had 380 total yards to Miami's 329 and nearly pulled off the huge upset after rallying from a 20-2 deficit with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter - an 11-yard touchdown pass from Thad Lewis to Raphael Chestnut, and a 7-yard TD run by Re'quan Boyette.

"We're knocking on the door for a third (TD). That's how you want to finish games," Duke coach Ted Roof said. "I was proud of the way they fought back."

Duke had two chances in the final 5 minutes to win it. The first attempt failed when Lewis' fourth-down pass to Jomar Wright was juggled near the 20 and dropped with 3:39 left.

The Blue Devils got it back with 1:35 to play and used two long Lewis-to-Jomar Wright passes and a pass-interference penalty on Miami to move to the Miami 6 with 3 seconds left.

Lewis threw toward the left side of the end zone for Eron Riley. Cooper picked off the pass and returned it to the Duke 15, where he fell down to seal the Hurricanes' fourth straight win.

Lewis finished 21-for-40 for 284 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted four times - a Miami-record three by Kenny Phillips.

Kyle Wright was 24-for-41 for 299 yards and TDs of 18 and 26 yards to Shields. But Duke held Miami to 30 yards rushing.

"Up 17-0 (at halftime), things were going our way," Wright said. "We were going to come out, pick up where we left off, but it just didn't happen."