Below are the top five plays from this Sunshine State rivalry in which UM has won three of the past four.
No. 5 – Herb Waters reels in eighty-seven yard touchdown pass from Stephen Morris - Miami already led 22-3 late in the third quarter when Waters scored the Canes’ longest touchdown receptions in years, but it was a beautiful play – and one the UM receivers needed.
A huge storyline going into Saturday was the fact that so many wideouts were sidelined. Davon Johnson was lost for the season in practice, Allen Hurns was banged up with a hand injury and Rashawn Scott remained suspended indefinitely. The Canes already lost both Malcolm Lewis and Robert Lockhart Jr. for the year, so the wide receiver corps were thin and if Miami was going to win, it’d take a great effort from a small group.
Waters, called on late in the year, stepped up big. He finished with four receptions for 130 yards and was the Canes second-leading receiver on the day.
No. 4 – Clive Walford takes game’s first pass thirty-four yards, en route to big day – The drive ended in a field goal, but the confusion amongst South Florida’s defense when Walford got open and hauled in the big pass – a welcomed site for a Miami offense that has struggled to get its tight end involved for years.
Walford had another big grab early in the second quarter, going thirty-six yards on a 2nd-and-7 and on a 3rd-and-11 early in the fourth quarter, Morris scrambled right and found a wide open Walford for a sixty-five yard score, putting Miami ahead, 37-3.
The Morris-to-Walford hook-up was huge as the junior quarterback looked left, thought about throwing to a covered receiver, kept the play alive with his legs, rolled right and found an open Walford, who also did his part to get open.
Only reason the sixty-five yard score didn’t make the top five – the fact the Canes already led 30-3 at that point, early in the fourth.
No. 3 – Duke Johnson scores eight-yard touchdown early third quarter - Late in the second quarter, a huge momentum shift as Duke was hit when diving into the end zone, fumbling for a touchback. South Florida wound up driving the field and settling for a final-second field goal, after poor clock management.
What should’ve been a 23-0 Miami lead, turned into a 16-3 half time score. The Canes opened the third quarter on offense and after driving sixty-four yards on eight plays, Johnson took the handoff, ran left and dove into the end zone as the precise spot where he fumbled the previous drive.
Duke got his confidence back with the score, while Miami answered back, opening the third quarter with a quick score, pushing the lead to, 23-3.
No. 2 – Kendal Thompkins hauls in fifteen-yard touchdown, putting Miami ahead, 16-0 - The play wouldn’t have been possible without a Jimmy Gaines interception the previous play, but the fact that Miami immediately turned a South Florida mistake into the game’s first touchdown proved huge.
Settling for another field goal when taking over on UM’s fifteen would’ve been a victory for USF. Instead, Morris dropped back, looked right and fired to Thompkins, who stutter-stepped, hauled in the pass and planted both toes in the end zone for the score.
Thompkins had a twenty-eight yard reception on a 3rd-and-8 earlier in the game, but the drive ended in a Miami punt. This catch gave the Canes’ offense a much-needed spark, setting the stage for a thirty-four point output in the second half as UM ran away with it.
No. 1 – Linebacker Denzel Perryman knocks quarterback Bobby Eveld out of game - Eveld hadn’t yet done much on the day, but he was keeping his Bulls in the game. Miami led 3-0 late in the first quarter, with South Florida pinned deep in their own territory.
Facing a 3rd and 11 after an incompletion, Eveld scrambled right, in an attempt to giving his punter some breathing room. Perryman exploded into the frame, lowered the shoulder and drove it into Eveld’s non-throwing arm, sending the quarterback down – and eventually out … once he got up and moving.
Third-string quarterback Matt Floyd entered, going 20-of-35 for 175 yards with two interceptions on the day, with Miami’s defense bringing some heat and certainly playing with a fearless mindset in regards to Floyd putting the game on his shoulders for the win.
Could Miami have beaten South Florida with Eveld under center? The way the Canes offense played, most-likely. Still, Bulls coaches thought enough of Eveld to burn his redshirt for this game. He’d played the past two years against Miami, helping South Florida earn a win in 2010, so he was clearly the better option.
Once Perryman sent Eveld packing, this game quickly unraveled offensively for South Florida and Miami was able to go big, sending the Bulls home.
Christian Bello has been covering Miami Hurricanes athletics since the mid-1990s. After spending almost a decade as a columnist for CanesTime, he launched allCanesBlog.com. – the official blog for allCanes.com : The #1 Canes Shop Since 1959. Bello has joined up with XOFan.com and will be a guest columnist at CaneInsider.com this fall. Follow him on Twitter @ChristianRBello.