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November 14, 2005

Miami puts its speed to use



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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The advantage was glaring almost from the start. Miami's wide receivers simply had too much speed for Wake Forest.

On the fourth play of the Hurricanes' first possession, Ryan Moore ran past cornerback Riley Swanson and hauled in a pass from Kyle Wright for a 42-yard gain to set up a touchdown run by Charlie Jones. It proved to be only the third-longest completion of the night for Wright.

"That kind of set the tone early, that we had some guys outside they'd have to respect," the Miami quarterback said. "For Ryan to make a play and get over the top like that, it definitely set the tone for our offense."

Wright kept it going. The sophomore making only his ninth career start tied a school record with five touchdown passes, including three in a span of 2 minutes, 40 seconds late in the first half.

Those helped the Hurricanes rally from a brief deficit, and they went on to win 47-17 Saturday to stay on track for a spot in the first Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. Miami remained No. 3 The Associated Press media poll released Sunday.

And none of it really surprised Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe.

"We expected to have problems," he said. "The nice thing for Kyle is that he is surrounded by a pretty good cast. Obviously, their receivers are as good as anyone in the country, and the kid doesn't make many mistakes."

As Grobe pointed out, Wright had plenty of help. His five TD tosses went to five different receivers, and Lance Leggett had the longest one on his only catch. He caught a 76-yarder early in the third quarter, and the final 25 or so highlighted Miami's shocking edge in speed.

Strong safety Patrick Ghee appeared well within reach of making the saving tackle, but each time he reached for Leggett, the separation between the two players only grew. Ghee never did completely catch the speedy wideout, but he might have been used to it by then.

Earlier, during the Hurricanes scoring binge in the second quarter, Wright found Sinorice Moss running free through Wake Forest's zone defense. The pass connected with Moss in stride, and he ran untouched to complete the 64-yard scoring play.

Well, he wasn't totally untouched. Ghee got there in time to futilely graze Moss just as they reached the end zone, but of course, it was too late.

"They've got some fast players, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot," Deacons safety Josh Gattis said. "A lot of those big plays were the result of us having mental mistakes out there."

The errors weren't only on defense. Wake Forest stuck with its quirky offensive system after falling behind 14-3, using plenty of misdirection and other gadget plays to come back.

Midway through the second quarter, wide receiver Nate Morton took a handoff on a reverse, but instead of continuing around the line, the former high school quarterback threw a perfect spiral to Chris Davis for a touchdown. The second TD pass of Morton's career covered 71 yards and got the Deacons back in it.

They drove 75 yards when they got the ball again to take the lead, with Chris Barclay covering the final 7 after taking a pitch on the option from quarterback Cory Randolph. Suddenly, Wake Forest led 17-14.

"They schemed us pretty well and made some good plays in the first half," Miami coach Larry Coker said.

Moss' long touchdown allowed the Hurricanes to retake the lead before a rash of turnovers - two fumbles and an interception - doomed the Deacons.

"Even with the big plays we gave up on defense, if we take better care of the football then I think at least it's competitive," Grobe said. "And it ended up not being competitive with all the turnovers we had."

Wright and Miami's offense did their part, too.

"I think in a lot of areas we have progressed," Coker said. "For one, I think the pass protection has gotten better, and the other thing is we don't have a lot of new plays, but we are doing a better job of guys making plays."

For more coverage of the Miami Hurricanes, check out CaneSport.com.


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