7:30 PM ET, August 28, 2003
Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- A decent debut for Miami's new big three was enough for the Hurricanes to win their opener going away.
Antrel Rolle returned an interception and a punt for touchdowns and Frank Gore ran for 118 yards as No. 3 Miami beat Louisiana Tech 48-9 Thursday night.
The game marked the starting debut for Gore, quarterback Brock Berlin and wide receiver Ryan Moore.
The trio has a long way to go to keep Hurricanes fans from missing Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson.
"I wouldn't say it was great," Berlin said. "I'm glad to get it out of the way and now just ready to get on with next week."
The Hurricanes host rival Florida on Sept. 6.
Making his Miami debut in his hometown, Berlin was OK in a little less than three quarters of work. The Florida transfer was 14-for-28 for 203 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
"I love Shreveport and the people here. And the fans. That was an excellent environment to play in tonight," Berlin said.
Gore, who missed all last season after major knee surgery, showed good burst and power on 21 carries and caught two passes for 33 yards.
Gore said he feels even better than before the injury.
"I feel like I got a lot stronger to take on linebackers," Gore said. "As the game goes I get better and better. Next week it's going to be different so I've got to pick it up even more."
As for Moore, who is expected to fill Johnson's spot as the big-play receiver, the redshirt freshman caught four passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. He also had two drops.
The Miami offense scored a touchdown on its first possession and didn't get into the end zone again until late in the third quarter.
Luke McCown was 16-for-26 for 195 yards with two interceptions as the Bulldogs were able to bust a few big plays against the Hurricanes' defense, but couldn't break the goal line against 346-pound tackle Vince Wilfork and company.
Despite the flaws, the Hurricanes seemed to toy with the 28-point underdogs.
"We started off slow. We had to pick it up in the second half," Gore said.
Berlin's first completion since the 2002 Orange Bowl was a 17-yard strike to Moore to convert a third down. Three plays later, Berlin found Moore slanting across the middle again, this time for a 23-yard touchdown.
Rolle then made the first of his two big plays.
He fielded a booming punt at his own 34, sidestepped a couple of Bulldogs and found a clear path to the end zone for a 66-yard score. Five minutes into the game, Miami was up 14-0.
Miami was a short flip away from going up three touchdowns when Berlin made his first gaffe as a Hurricane. The junior had a receiver all by himself in the end zone on a first-and-goal play, but the ball slipped out of his hand as he cocked his arm. Instead of a 4-yard TD pass, the play went for a 25-yard loss.
On the next play, Berlin was picked off by T.J. Jackson.
Louisiana Tech turned that turnover into a field goal to make it 14-3 in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would get no closer.
Though they were on the move when D.J. Williams picked up a fumbled handoff by Ralph Davis and sprinted 78 yards untouched for a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.
"That was definitely a momentum turner," Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said. "We had a chance to make it interesting. You can't do that against a team like that."
Miami blew it open with two touchdowns in a span of about 1:30 late in the third quarter.
Kellen Winslow Jr. -- Miami's one returning offensive star -- went over a helplessly undersized defender to grab a 6-yard touchdown with 3:28 left in the third quarter. The son of the NFL Hall of Famer flashed a quick Heisman pose in a modest celebration. Rolle struck again moments later, picking a tipped pass out of the air and going 30 yards for touchdown that made it 38-6.