Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 9/29/12
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. Al Golden, the University of Miami's excitable second-year coach, had a singular thought when quarterback Stephen Morris launched Saturday's game-winning touchdown pass that traveled 62 yards in the air. "Holy (expletive)!" That's probably what 10th-ranked Notre Dame, UM's next opponent, thought about Miami's 44-37 victory against North Carolina State. Morris, the junior with a cannon for a right arm, passed for a UM- and Atlantic Coast Conference-record 566 yards and five touchdowns against the Wolfpack. "I'm speechless about it," Morris said about the performance that put his name in the Quarterback U. record book over legends such as Gino Torretta (485 and 468 yards), Craig Erickson (467 yards) and Bernie Kosar (447 yards). This, mind you, happened a week after Morris passed for 436 yards in a memorable, come-from-behind, 42-36 overtime victory at Georgia Tech. And let's not forget Miami sophomore wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. The diminutive speedster caught Morris' game-winning missile, his second touchdown reception of the day. Dorsett ended with 191 yards receiving, the third-best total in UM history. It's an impressive follow-up to the 184 yards receiving he had the previous week, the eighth-best total in school history. That's good stuff when you consider UM has produced Hall of Famer Michael Irvin; Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts, a probable Hall of Famer; and Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans, arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Yes, it should be quite a showdown at Chicago's Soldier Field on Saturday between the once-defeated Hurricanes (4-1) and the undefeated Fighting Irish (4-0). "I talked about it as we were huddling up as a team in the locker room," Morris said. "I've been waiting for this game since my freshman year." It's no longer Catholics vs. Convicts; rather, it's Good vs. Good Enough To Win. Morris' mighty heave to Dorsett with 29 seconds left gave the Hurricanes their second consecutive you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it victory. It was a fitting follow-up to last week's win at Georgia Tech. In that game, UM took a 19-0 lead, allowed 36 unanswered points, then scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game and eventually won with a touchdown on its first possession in overtime. That's how it is with the Cardiac 'Canes, a freshman- and sophomore-dominated team it seems you can't ever count out despite their leaky defense, spotty offense and so-so special teams. "I accepted a long time ago this is who we are," an exasperated Golden said after the game. Because of their strong-willed attitude, all of a sudden things are looking up at The U. No one is talking about the past or the future, which means the yet-to-be-announced NCAA penalties from the scandal involving disassociated booster Nevin Shapiro. Everybody's talking about the here and now. UM, which has never advanced to the ACC championship game, let alone win the ACC title, is 3-0 in the conference for the first time since 2004, its first year in the league. UM also has its first three-game win streak since 2009. And it's all because these guys never give up. "This team's a tough team," Morris said. Even the punterholder is tough. Dalton Botts, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound senior, dragged Wolfpack starting cornerback Dontae Johnson about 4 yards while converting a fake field goal in the second quarter. Botts wasn't even aware he took Johnson on a ride. "I just remember getting hit, and I was like, I can't go down,' " Botts said. At least Johnson had a better game than his partner, David Amerson, N.C. State's prized cornerback. Amerson, who had an ACC-record 13 interceptions last season and won the Jack Tatum Award as the nation's best defensive back, had the most embarrassing game of his career as UM repeatedly targeted and torched the junior All-American. Amerson gave up four touchdown passes (some pin all five of UM's TD passes on Amerson, also blaming him for the game-winner). He was also flagged for a ridiculous offsides penalty on a field-goal attempt that gave UM a first down at the Wolfpack 4-yard line. On the very next play, UM scored to take a 30-21 lead in the third quarter. And that wasn't even his most egregious play. Amerson stopped defending when his team was flagged for offsides in the first quarter. The result was an easy, 76-yard touchdown pass from Morris to Rashawn Scott. But back to the 'Canes UM isn't a good team. No one would come to that conclusion. The Hurricanes missed three field-goal tries Saturday, allowed N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon 440 yards passing and four TDs and allowed Wolfpack running backs 224 yards rushing. The 'Canes were fortunate to beat Boston College (41-32) in the opener and got hammered at seventh-ranked Kansas State (52-13). But UM has savvy and moxie and a boatload of talent among its youngsters. So far, that's been good enough. By the way, Notre Dame was off this week. Some of the Fighting Irish probably watched this game. UM figures those Notre Dame players took one thing from Saturday's game. "I think they know we're fighters," Dorsett said. "We're going to fight all day."
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