Defense the Difference in 21-16 Win
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Stephen Morris threw two first-quarter touchdown passes, and Miami took advantage of Florida giving the ball away on four red-zone opportunities on the way to knocking off the 12th-ranked Gators 21-16 on Saturday.
Duke Johnson added a 2-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left to make it 21-9 Miami (2-0), which has won four straight games for the first time since 2008 and will almost certainly return to the AP Top 25 on Sunday for the first time since 2010.
Jeff Driskel threw for a career-best 291 yards and had a 21-yard touchdown pass to Solomon Patton with 2:08 left for the Gators (1-1), who lost three fumbles, had two passes intercepted and were stopped once on downs. Driskel also ran for a touchdown.
But Driskel also turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter, getting intercepted - one of Florida's many red-zone miscues - by Miami's Tracy Howard with 6:41 left, then getting hit deep in Florida territory and fumbling it away about 2 minutes later to set up the score by Johnson.
The Driskel-to-Patton touchdown capped a four-play, 60-yard drive that lasted only 81 seconds. Florida's ensuing onside kick was recovered by Miami, and the Hurricanes ran the clock down to 28 seconds before punting the ball away.
And predictably, it ended with a Florida mistake. The Gators - who needed a miracle - were guilty of a false-start penalty on the game's final play, the clock runoff wiping away the final seconds. Miami coach Al Golden threw his right arm in the air, then sprinted to the Florida sideline to shake the hand of Gators coach Will Muschamp.
Typically, the coaches meet around midfield. Not in this one - Golden was in an all-out sprint, and the Hurricanes were clearly in the mood to celebrate.
So the last chapter, at least for the foreseeable future, of the series between the Sunshine State rivals went to the Hurricanes, and gave Golden easily his biggest win since coming to Miami. The Hurricanes had lost 12 of their last 14 games against teams ranked No. 12 or higher, often getting blown out.
Not this time, though they got plenty of help from the Gators in this one.
Florida held the ball for 38 minutes, racking up 413 yards to Miami's 212, and it still wasn't enough. The Gators had 22 first downs to Miami's 10, held the Hurricanes to a putrid 1-for-11 rate on third-downs, and still lost.
The Gators reached the Miami 28 on the game's opening drive, then started the trend of not being able to handle first-half prosperity. A foolish penalty - a 15-yarder assessed to Florida's Clay Burton for a hit on Miami safety Ladarius Gunter - knocked the Gators backward, and Matt Jones fumbled the ball away two plays later to set the Hurricanes up at midfield.
Morris took advantage, finding Herb Waters with a 7-yard touchdown pass that opened the scoring to cap a nine-play drive. Morris connected with Phillip Dorsett for a 52-yard score and a 14-6 lead for Miami late in the quarter, becoming the first quarterback to have two opening-period TD throws against the Gators since JaMarcus Russell did it for LSU in 2005.
Florida's only first-half score was off a Miami mistake.
The Gators blocked a Miami punt with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the first, taking over at the Hurricanes' 9. Driskel ran it in from there two plays later - though Miami kept the lead when the Gators unsuccessfully tried a 2-point conversion.
After the Morris-to-Dorsett play, and not counting an end-of-half kneeldown, the Hurricanes ran six plays in about 17 minutes. The Gators ran 30 in that span, and didn't get a single point out of them.
Three second-quarter trips to the Miami red zone brought three Gator giveaways.
Driskel threw a pass that was intercepted by Rayshawn Jenkins early in the second quarter, and Driskel got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 try at the Miami 16 to end what was an 11-play drive. And then a 12-play, 66-yard march ended in the final minute of the half, when Trey Burton got hit by Miami's Jimmy Gaines and fumbled away a catch