12:00 PM ET, November 20, 2004
ORANGE BOWL, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI -- Knowing another loss would doom Miami's hopes of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference, Brock Berlin quickly ensured that the Hurricanes would stay in the thick of the title chase.
Berlin threw for a career-best 361 yards and four touchdowns in just over a half Saturday, leading (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) Miami past Wake Forest 52-7.
He set the tone for Miami's big-play bonanza by hitting Sinorice Moss with a 42-yard pass on the game's first play, enhanced his chances of winning the ACC player of the year honors and -- most importantly -- helped Miami (8-2, 5-2) set up a Dec. 4 showdown with Virginia Tech that may decide the conference title.
"We came in this week knowing that we were going to be able to hit some big plays if we ran good routes and threw it well," said Berlin, whose previous career high was a 352-yard day last season against West Virginia. "Sure enough, we made it happen."
Berlin completed 13 of 19 passes and threw touchdowns to four different receivers. In his last seven games, Berlin has completed 55.9 percent of his passes for 1,894 yards with 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions -- none in his last 153 attempts.
"He kept us off balance," Wake cornerback Marcus McGruder said. "They ran great routes. He threw the ball on the money and they made big plays."
Berlin -- who threw for 201 yards in the first quarter alone, eclipsing the total yards he managed in 11 of his first 21 Miami starts -- left with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter, after hitting Ryan Moore with a 10-yard touchdown pass that put Miami ahead 42-7.
"We said, 'When they give us an opportunity, let's finish it,"' Berlin said. "And that's what we did."
Frank Gore rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown, and Rashaun Jones recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for another Hurricanes' score. Miami outgained Wake Forest 579-193.
"We've been down a little bit, but we're not out," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "They fought their way back and we're still in a good situation. ... We're down to a one-game season now."
Chris Barclay had a nifty 14-yard touchdown run late in the first half for Wake Forest (4-6, 1-6), which hadn't lost a game by more than seven points all season.
Barclay -- who entered the game as the ACC's leading rusher -- finished with 57 yards on 18 carries for Wake Forest, which won't reach a bowl game for the fourth time in five years.
"They were definitely a different team than they were against Carolina and Clemson," Barclay said, referring to Miami's two conference losses that knocked the Hurricanes from the national title picture. "Those guys were playing with a purpose. They were out there making a statement."
The win kept alive Miami's hopes of making a fifth straight appearance in the Bowl Championship Series. To claim the ACC crown, the Hurricanes need to beat Virginia Tech, then get some help to win potential three-way tiebreakers with Florida State and either Virginia or the Hokies.
And Miami clearly didn't overlook Wake Forest.
Miami scored touchdowns on its first three possessions. By halftime, Berlin connected on seven passes of 20 or more yards -- including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Roscoe Parrish on the game's third play, a 56-yard scoring strike to Lance Leggett that put Miami up 28-0, and a 52-yarder that Parrish grabbed to end the half.
"We spent the week working on the patterns we missed last week," said Parrish, who had five catches for 141 yards. "We worked a lot in practice and it paid off big today."
Said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe: "Their receivers are special, but Berlin got them the football."
Andrew Johnson's 3-yard touchdown run capped the scoring for Miami with 50 seconds left.
Wake Forest -- whose five previous losses were by a combined 30 points -- managed only 36 yards passing and punted eight times. The Demon Deacons' best starting field position was their own 28.
"When they wanted to go on top, they did," Grobe said. "They got us reeling in the first half. I'm so impressed with their speed. They just ran away from our guys."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||8-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|TD||13:43||ROSCOE PARRISH 39 YD PASS FROM BROCK BERLIN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 77 yards.
|TD||10:14||SINORICE MOSS 18 YD PASS FROM BROCK BERLIN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||6:33||FRANK GORE 1 YD RUN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||7:56||LANCE LEGGETT 56 YD PASS FROM BROCK BERLIN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||0:44||CHRIS BARCLAY 14 YD RUN (RYAN PLACKEMEIER KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||13:23||RASHAUN JONES 0 YD BLOCKED PUNT RETURN (JON PEATTIE KICK)||7||35|
|TD||8:50||RYAN MOORE 10 YD PASS FROM BROCK BERLIN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 68 yards.
|FG||14:01||JON PEATTIE 34 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 23 yards.
|TD||0:50||ANDREW JOHNSON 3 YD RUN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 16 plays, 90 yards.