3:30 PM ET, September 15, 2007
ORANGE BOWL, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- Just as the teams vowed, no fisticuffs marred the second meeting between Miami and Florida International.
Kyle Wright, however, still landed a knockout blow.
Wright threw an 80-yard pass to Lance Leggett for Miami's longest offensive score in nearly two years, helping the Hurricanes beat Florida International 23-9 Saturday in the rematch of South Florida rivals who got into an on-field melee last season.
"Nothing like one completion for 80 yards and a touchdown," Wright said. "Those are the best."
Darnell Jenkins had a career-high 108 yards receiving, Javarris James ran for 92 yards and Kenny Phillips and Chavez Grant had interceptions for Miami (2-1). The Hurricanes held a 428-264 edge in total yards, sending the Golden Panthers (0-3) to their 15th straight loss.
With Duke winning at Northwestern on Saturday night, ending the Blue Devils' losing streak at 22 games, FIU's losing streak is the longest in the Bowl Subdivision.
Wright finished 10-of-19 for 224 yards, Graig Cooper ran for a 3-yard score and Francesco Zampogna kicked three field goals. Miami finished with 204 yards on 40 carries.
"We've got athletes on this team," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "Everybody says, 'Well, you don't have the receivers to make plays.' Now it's an opportunity for us to sit down and use our strengths. ... Our strength right now is the offensive line and the running game."
Wayne Younger threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Trenard Turner midway through the final quarter and A'mod Ned rushed for 87 yards for FIU, which lost 35-0 last season to its foe whose campus is only 9 miles away.
"We're getting better and better," Ned said. "But we're not where we need to be."
Michael Dominguez and Anthony Gaitor had interceptions for FIU. Younger had 171 total yards, 105 passing.
There was no repeat of the sideline-clearing brawl between the teams that led to 31 players getting suspended last season. To be safe, the Atlantic Coast Conference sent its top referee, Jack Childress, to keep order, and his crew set a strict tone, separating Miami and FIU players when necessary.
There were four 15-yard penalties in the first quarter alone, and early in the second period, Childress stopped play when hearing a whistle blown by fans seated behind the west end zone. For the game, the teams were flagged 22 times for 176 yards.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game to play," Miami offensive lineman Derrick Morse said. "There was a lot of emphasis on sportsmanship. It was pretty clean."
Play was even gentlemanly at times. When Miami defensive end Calais Campbell hit Younger early in the fourth quarter on a play whistled dead by a false start, he got up and raised both hands apologetically.
Several fans were ejected, some of them dragged out by police and security guards, for altercations in the Orange Bowl stands. Police on horseback were patrolling the grounds as well.
Miami took control late in the third quarter when Wright found Leggett down the right sideline for a 23-3 lead. Leggett, who wasn't in the starting lineup, got separation by stiff-arming FIU's Lionell Singleton after the catch and sprinting to the end zone.
I was just saying 'Throw it, throw it,' " Leggett said. "It's the third game. It's time to make a play."
Cooper's first collegiate touchdown opened the scoring, and Zampogna hit two field goals to send Miami into halftime up 13-0. It was 16-3 when Wright found Leggett for Miami's final score, and the outcome was never in doubt even after Younger connected with Turner for the Golden Panthers' lone touchdown.
Still, first year FIU coach Mario Cristobal, who shared a big hug with Shannon after the game, remained encouraged.
"We're going to be a national championship football team one day," Cristobal said. "We're just not there yet. Got to keep working hard."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-11||4-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|TD||04:43||Graig Cooper 3 Yd Run (Francesco Zampogna Kick)||0||7|
|FG||06:41||Francesco Zampogna 27 Yd||0||10|
|FG||00:00||Francesco Zampogna 24 Yd||0||13|
|FG||10:45||Chris Abed 24 Yd||3||13|
|FG||05:29||Francesco Zampogna 27 Yd||3||16|
|TD||02:20||Lance Leggett 80 Yd Pass From Kyle Wright (Francesco Zampogna Kick)||3||23|
|TD||07:35||Trenard Turner 65 Yd Pass From Wayne Younger (Pat Failed)||9||23|