After slow start, Miami cruises past Toldeo

Written by Brian Pohl
​Miami, FL- After 20 days since their last game, the Miami Hurricanes were finally back on the field to take on the 3-0 Toledo Rockets in their final game before ACC play.

The rust from the long break was evident in the first half, as Miami was able to get some big plays, but could never get into a real rhythm. The bright spot was Mark Walton, who rushed for 140 yards, including a 44–yard touchdown run and an 82-yard run that almost went for another score. His first-half was cut short after a left ankle injury, although he would return in the second half. Quarterback Malik Rosier finished 8-12 for just 50 yards in the half.

The Miami defense played well overall in the first half, limiting drives to field goals early, but were on the field for most of the half and eventually gave up a touchdown right before halftime. Of note, defensive back Malek Young led the team with six first half tackles and defensive end Trent Harris had two big sacks.

The big story of the first half was the time of possession. Toledo had the ball for 20:18 which more than doubled Miami’s 9:42. The Rockets were able to put together long drive after long drive, and this was helped by converting 10 of 14 third-down conversions in the first half.

The fast-paced Toledo offense put together 296 yards of total offense in the first-half and were able to move the ball in both the running and passing games. Running back Terry Swanson led the Rockets with 77 first-half rushing yards on 15 carries, but the majority of the Rockets yards came from passing. Quarterback Logan Woodside was impressive, completing 13 of 26 passes for 213 yards and a long 37-yard touchdown to a wide-open Jon’Vea Johnson. which led them to their 16-10 halftime lead over the Hurricanes.

The second half was a completely different game for Miami, as they were able to seize control in the third quarter and never look back.

Offensively, the big story of the game is Miami running back Mark Walton. Despite only having 11 carries in the game, and missing significant time in the second and third quarter, was able to rush for 207 yards and his first career 200-yard game. Malik Rosier, who really struggled to get into a rhythm in the first half, was able to throw for a total of 333-yards and 4 touchdowns including 1 rushing touchdown.

It was Rosier’s explosion in the second half that caused Miami to catapult into the lead and never look back. Touchdown passes to wide receiver Dayall Harris, tight end Christopher Herndon, and wide receiver Braxton Berrios (who reached the first 100-yard receiving game of his career) were the major standouts receiving, but sophomore running back Travis Homer was able to get involved in the passing game and punched 2 scores in on the ground as well.

Defensively, the Hurricanes were finally able to stop drives on third down and get off the field, and that was a major reason they were able to get control of the game early in the second half. The “Turnover Chain” is officially in possession by junior defensive lineman Sheldrick Redwine, who recovered a fumble late in the third quarter.

Overall, this was a game of two halves for the Hurricanes, and this can most likely be contributed to being rusty after the almost 3-week break. Head Coach Mark Richt was asked about the break during his post-game press conference and said, “We knew we weren’t in the best football shape [because of the break], but we knew we were going to try and substitute as best we could [to give players rest].” Coach Richt went on to talk about how the temperature drop when the sun went down may have helped them more than Toledo. The second half performance on both sides of the ball for the Hurricanes will need to continue if they are going to be successful against Duke, who are 3-0 after a big win over UNC.

Miami will start ACC play next week at Duke on Friday at 7:00 PM EST.

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