Last year, a stunning loss to Pittsburgh on national television sent Miami into its worst tailspin in two decades. Thursday night, the Hurricanes used the rematch to put themselves on the verge of a major bowl game.
Edgerrin James scored on a 68-yard reception on Miami's second offensive play and ran for two other touchdowns as the 22nd-ranked Hurricanes won their fourth consecutive game with a 38-10 victory.
"With all we have at stake, we knew there was no way we were going to let them beat us again," James said.
Miami (7-2, 5-1 Big East) can claim the Big East's berth in the Bowl Championship Series by beating No. 24 Syracuse next week at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse plays Saturday at Temple.
"The coaches have been asking us to get to a game that really means something. Next week is that game," defensive end Derrick Ham said.
James scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards on the way to a 106-yard performance, becoming the only player in Miami history to record two 1,000-yard seasons. He now has 1,002 yards this season.
Scott Covington completed 17 of 23 passes for 284 yards, and Jeff Popovich ran 25 yards for a TD on a fake field goal as the Hurricanes reversed last year's 21-17 loss at Pittsburgh. Many Miami players called that loss the low point of last year's 5-6 season, the school's first losing campaign in 19 years.
R.J. English caught a 10-yard TD pass from Rob Lytle for Pittsburgh (2-8, 0-6), which lost its sixth consecutive game.
"They have so many weapons," Pittsburgh safety Seth Hornack said. "Their receivers are great, their running game is great. You can't focus on any one thing."
| R.J. English and the Panthers were shut down and dominated by Miami . (AP) |
In each game of its current streak, Miami has rolled up at least 34 points and 415 yards total offense.
"Six or seven weeks ago, there were a lot of things that had to happen for us to get in this situation," Miami coach Butch Davis said. "But the first thing is we had to take care of the University of Miami."
James has 15 touchdowns this season, breaking the school record of 14 set by Eddie Dunn in 1938 and matched by James last year. Eleven of James' TDs have come in the past four games.
It took only two plays for the junior to add to his total. Covington rolled right, pulled up and threw back across the field to James, who had nobody within 15 yards when he caught the ball at the Miami 42. He turned upfield and utilized Reggie Wayne's downfield block to score just 2:42 into the contest.
English's TD catch with 5:51 left in the first quarter tied the game for the Panthers, but Miami responded with a 12-play drive that ended when James scored from 1 yard out on fourth down.
James' 3-yard TD run with 27 seconds left before halftime gave Miami a 21-7 lead. Covington ran the Hurricanes' two-minute drill to near perfection, completing seven of eight passes on the drive for 76 yards.
Miami appeared to stall at the Pittsburgh 25 on the opening drive of the second half. But Popovich, holding for an apparent field goal, took the snap and sprinted through a huge opening for a 28-7 lead.
Kenny Kelly hit fellow backup Dan Smith on a 1-yard TD pass to give Miami a 35-7 advantage with 6:44 left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh's Nick Lotz and Miami's Andy Crosland exchanged field goals as the game wound down.
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