Twice in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter on Saturday, Miami’s undefeated record was on the brink of extinction. Twice, the Hurricanes put the game in the hands of their best player. Twice, Duke Johnson delivered emphatically.
It was hardly a glamorous win over Wake Forest for the No. 7 Hurricanes, who now head to Tallahassee, Fla., for a showdown with No. 3 Florida State, but for the second straight week they managed just enough to win. And on Saturday, that winning margin was Johnson.
Johnson carried a career-high 30 times for 168 yards, but it was his fourth-quarter heroics that made the difference.
Trailing 14-10 with 9:41 to go, Miami marched 51 yards on eight plays, capped by a 4-yard TD run by Johnson, to take its first lead. All eight plays on the drive were runs, including six from Johnson.
Wake responded with a score of its own, and Miami once again turned to Johnson for an answer. The Hurricanes tailback ran seven times for 42 yards, including the game-winning touchdown from a yard out with 53 seconds to play.
“I had momentum going into the final drive,” Johnson said. “The coaches said we’ll put the game in your hands and you can go out and make it happen.”
For the season, Johnson has carried 122 times -- just 17 shy of his total from all of 2012 -- for 823 yards and six touchdowns. Despite an injury forcing him to the sideline two weeks ago against North Carolina, he has tallied 462 yards from scrimmage in his last three games. His 6.75 yards per carry average is tops among ACC rushers with at least 100 carries and is seventh nationally. Johnson’s 1,280 all-purpose yards this season rank eighth nationally.