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From Orangemen to Orange Bowl?

Miami keeps national title dream alive with a 26-0 rout at Syracuse.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000


SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- James Jackson gained 101 yards on 23 carries and scored twice as No. 2 Miami beat Syracuse 26-0 on Saturday night remain in the hunt for the national championship.

Miami (9-1, 6-0 Big East), which has one game left, against Boston College, also entered the game ranked second in the BCS standings and needed a strong performance against the struggling Orangemen (5-5, 3-3). Facing a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first start at home, it proved an easy task.

On its eight first-half possessions, Syracuse did not gain a first down on seven as quarterback R.J. Anderson failed to generate anything offensively. The Orangemen gained 42 yards on 29 plays in the half and had two first downs.

"We knew they were going to try to run some option, try to confuse us," said linebacker Dan Morgan, who aggravated a toe injury in the second quarter but had three tackles for loss. "One little mess-up and they are going to bust a play on you."

Anderson finished 11-for-25 for 83 yards and threw a costly interception.

"They say we had to win by 20, and we did that tonight," said Miami coach Butch Davis, who was whooping it up in the locker room afterward, praising his defense. "I would be disappointed if we didn't stay second, especially with the tough stretch we've had. Every team we've played has had a winning record."

Miami, which won the field-position game handily, grabbed a 23-0 halftime lead to take the Carrier Dome crowd of 49,327 out of the game. The stands were more empty than full after Todd Sievers kicked a 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Of their eight possessions in the opening half, the Hurricanes started near midfield or in Syracuse territory six times, and that made it easy.

Leading 3-0 on an early 23-yard field goal by Sievers, Miami scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the second quarter to put the game away.

Ken Dorsey got the Hurricanes going with completions of 32 yards to Jeremy Shockey and 23 yards to Daryl Jones. A key 11-yarder to Santana Moss on a third-and-10 play set up Jackson's 5-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter.

Syracuse entered the game with the seventh-rated pass defense in the country, allowing 163.8 yards a game. Dorsey completed 9 of 19 passes for 183 yards in the first half. One was a 32-yard touchdown to Reggie Wayne on a crossing play over the middle that put Miami ahead 16-0 with 11:51 remaining in the half.

Strong safety Edward Reed nabbed Miami's 21st interception of the season to stop Syracuse's next possession. Jackson scored on a 33-yard run two plays later to make it 23-0.

"We weren't thinking about the BCS," Reed said. "Any time you can get a shutout, you try your hardest. We could have run up the score, but that's not the kind of team we are."

Syracuse, which relied on its defense all season, was expected to use the unit to stay in the game despite the absence of defensive end Dwight Freeney. Freeney, who led the nation with 13 sacks entering the game, sat out his third straight game with an undisclosed viral infection.

But the pressure that harried Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick, sacking him nine times in a 22-14 loss to the Hokies a month ago, never materialized. Dorsey rarely was hurried and finished 16-for-28 for 263 yards with no interceptions.

"We felt very comfortable and were able to operate, even with the noisy conditions," Dorsey said. "The offensive line did a great job of pass protecting and the receivers were running great routes. They made my job easy."

Syracuse also knew that to have a chance it would need a strong ground game, and that never surfaced, either. Then again, the Orangemen had not faced a defense of Miami's caliber this season -- the Hurricanes held powerful Florida State scoreless in the first half in Miami's 27-24 upset win over the Seminoles in early October -- and it showed.

Syracuse, which suffered its first shutout at home since West Virginia won 43-0 in 1993, mounted only two sustained drives.

The best chance to score came in the first quarter as Anderson moved the Orangemen from their 36 to the Miami 17 in nine plays. But Mike Shafer's 40-yard field-goal attempt was wide left, his 11th miss in 25 attempts.

"Momentum is a big thing in football," Dorsey said. "I really felt like we got the momentum back after they missed the field goal. I think that really helped us through the entire first half."

About the only bright spot for Syracuse was Dee Brown, who moved a yard past Ernie Davis into sixth place on Syracuse's career rushing list with 2,387.

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