After the Week 2 nail-biting, gut-wrenching rivalry matchup against the Gators, Saturday’s competition was…well, a bit less competitive. From the very start, UM set the dominant tone when sophomore running back Duke Johnson opened the night with a 95-yard kickoff return, matching his longest return of his career. The No. 16/17 Hurricanes (3-0) defeated the Savannah State Tigers (1-3) 77-7, breaking the school record of 75 points scored in a game in 1954.
Though Saturday’s game marked coach Al Golden’s largest victory margin, Golden demonstrated respectful sportsmanship with an agreement with Savannah State coach Earnest Wilson III. “We talked at halftime. He’s trying to teach his team how to fight, so I appreciate that, and I understand that” said Golden of his conversation with Wilson. “There are going to be guys that see the score and say whatever they want to say. I think you know what we were trying to do, and long before the fourth quarter. Coach [Wilson] was trying to teach his team to fight and compete, they’re throwing an interception here when they’re coming out and those types of things. It is what it is. We’re going to learn a lot about a lot of individual performances, and we needed to. We needed to see what the second- and third-team guys could do,” said Golden.
In the Hurricane dominated-matchup, coaches, players and fans alike collectively held their breath in nervous anticipation when senior quarterback Stephen Morris left the field with an injury early in the game. Golden was no exception to the anxiety. “Same thought as all you guys; I’m being honest. It’s so difficult because I always get the questions going into a game. ‘Are you going to sit so-and-so?’ The reality is these guys work so hard. Try and go tell Stephen he’s not playing after a bye week. It was an unfortunate circumstance, we’re blessed and grateful that he’s healthy and that he’s going to be okay. And at the same time, we learned a lot about Ryan [Williams]. I thought Gray Crow came in and did a good job too. He has had a good [past] seven to 10 days here, which is good,” said Golden. While most of the first-team players were on the sidelines by the second quarter, Saturday was a proving ground for many young and inexperienced Hurricanes.
Sophomore running back Dallas Crawford scored first for the Hurricanes with a 4-yard dash for the Savannah State end zone. Crawford added two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Freshman receiver Stacy Coley recorded his first career touchdown reception on a pass from junior quarterback Ryan Williams. Williams was 11 for 13 on the night, with 176 total passing yards. “He [Coley] did a great job on the kick return, made some nice moves on the punt return and he caught a nice little screen out there. We’re trying to get him going. He had a good week, so I’m pleased he carried it into the game. Obviously the jitters are behind him now,” said Golden of the true freshman.“It feels great, coming back against Savannah State and scoring two touchdowns,” said Coley, “It felt great just to see green grass and people going crazy.”
Williams made an impressive debut in his playmaking decisions and leadership on and off the field. “It was a great performance. Ryan and I were playing on the sideline, telling each other we would be in at half time. The next series Stephen got hurt and he went in and handled it like a first string quarterback. He handled the offense and acted like a captain,” said Crawford. “Ryan has been doing great in practice. He doesn’t get that many opportunities, so it was a great opportunity for him. It came at a point in the game when we weren’t pulling the reins back at that point. He had to run the whole offense and he did. I thought he made really good decisions. He has to do what Ryan Williams did – he made the catch- and-run throws. He put the ball where it needed to be so that guys could run with the ball. They weren’t turning around, or they weren’t waiting for it. That’s the kind of accuracy Ryan needed to have, so I’m really pleased with the way he conducted the game,” said Golden. “Every day I’m taking mental reps. I feel like I’m prepared regardless if I go in or not,” said Williams.
Redshirt freshman Gary Crow also saw action late in the game and threw for a 13-yard touchdown to junior tight end Beau Sandland. In stark contrast to Miami’s 77 points scored by a combination of players including senior wide receiver Allen Hurns, Johnson, and freshman running back Gus Edwards, the Hurricane defense allowed just one touchdown when Savannah State’s DeQuan Daniels broke free on a 75-yard run.
Miami travels to Tampa next Saturday to take on the USF Bulls at noon at Raymond James Stadium. Check out some more photos of Saturday’s game below:
words_kristen spillane. photos_raquel zaldivar.