Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dorsett's Career Day Propels FB Past ASU

Phillip Dorsett had a quick pregame conversation with Miami coach Al Golden, who gave the senior wide receiver an encouraging prediction.

A prophetic one, too.

Dorsett had 201 receiving yards on only four catches - the first player to do that at college football's highest level since 1997 - and hauled in two touchdown passes for the second straight week, leading Miami past Arkansas State 41-20 on Saturday.

"I told him before the game I thought he was going to have a big one," Golden said. "Obviously, no one could have seen that big. But that's the way he's practicing right now, so good for him."

Good for Miami, too. The Hurricanes hadn't had a pass completion of more than 39 yards in the season's first two games. They needed two plays Saturday to change that.

Dorsett hauled in a 63-yard pass from Brad Kaaya on Miami's second snap, and the Hurricanes were off and running. A true freshman in just his third career game, Kaaya completed 16 of 24 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns, the other two of those going to Clive Walford and Braxton Berrios as the Hurricanes rolled up 488 yards of offense.

"This is a very big confidence boost for Brad," running back Duke Johnson said. "Brad's first two games were kind of shaky. As a freshman, it's going to come with the territory, especially a freshman coming in and starting with a team like this."

Johnson had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, and Gus Edwards added another rushing score for Miami (2-1).

Fredi Knighten threw for 217 yards, ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass for Arkansas State (1-2). Johnston White had a rushing touchdown with 9:59 remaining for the Red Wolves.

"We played as a group. We just gave up too many big plays," Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson said. "Didn't execute when we needed to. ... We made them make tight throws and catches and they did it. Kaaya threw the ball well and Dorsett caught it. We really executed our coverages."

The Hurricanes visit Nebraska next week, the first time those teams will have met since the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2001 season - when Miami rolled to a 37-14 win that finished off the school's fifth and most recent national championship.

There was no looking ahead to that on Saturday. At least, not until the game was over.

"We've been trying to make it 12 one-game missions, and I think we did that," Golden said.

Dorsett's other catches went for 51, 24 and 63 yards again for another score in the third quarter. He finished with the third-highest receiving yard total in Miami history, topped by only Eddie Brown's 220 yards against Boston College on Nov. 23, 1984 - the game where Doug Flutie's pass to Gerard Phelan won it as time expired - and Wesley Carroll's 208 yards at California on Sept. 15, 1990.

"I'm not really a guy that looks at the Jumbotron a lot," Dorsett said. "I'm worried about the game."

Miami had touchdowns on its first three drives, including a 33-yard run from Johnson. The Hurricanes are now 13-0 all-time when Johnson rushes for at least one score.

Edwards rumbled 27 yards to make it 27-7 late in the half, before Knighten caught a 19-yard pass from receiver Tres Houston to get the Red Wolves within 13 at halftime.

Arkansas State recovered an onside kick to open the second half, even though Golden's first words at halftime to his team were about expecting such a play.

But the Red Wolves went nowhere with that chance, then fumbled the ball away on the next possession - a mistake that was followed by the second Kaaya-to-Dorsett 63-yarder for a touchdown that helped eliminate any mystery about the outcome.

"Glad we won," Kaaya said, after what Miami officials said was a record yardage total for a true freshman quarterback.

Miami allowed 329 yards, but Arkansas State needed 89 plays to get there. The Hurricanes got 8 yards per play on offense, and the defense allowed 3.7 yards per snap.

"I can't do the math," Golden said, "but that's pretty good."

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