7:45 PM ET, October 23, 2004
Carter-Finley Stadium, RALEIGH, NC
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- His offensive line kept the blitzing defenders away, and his receivers kept getting open. Brock Berlin did his part, too.
The Miami quarterback tied a school record with five touchdown passes and Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for another score, helping the Hurricanes (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) hold off North Carolina State 45-31 Saturday night.
The Wolfpack had been leading the country in total defense, allowing only 204 yards a game with a wide array of blitzes and coverages. Miami piled up 416 yards, and Berlin was never sacked.
"They came out firing, but I think our guys did a great job of preparing," Berlin said.
The Hurricanes (6-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) gave up 440 yards -- 299 in the first half alone -- but remained the only team in the conference without a loss. They took advantage of numerous miscues by the Wolfpack (4-3, 3-2), who were trying to beat a top-10 team for the first time since 2001.
They went deep in their playbook, too. Kicker John Deraney recovered an onside kick in the first quarter, and later, tailback T.A. McLendon took a direct snap and ran for 13 yards out of the first of two unusual formations used by the Wolfpack.
"We felt we had some things we could take advantage of in both the run and the passing game," N.C. State coach Chuck Amato said. "But you can't shoot yourself in the foot, you just can't do it."
Taped messages of encouragement from former Wolfpack stars Torry Holt and Philip Rivers also were played on the scoreboard, but it wasn't enough. Miami used two dominating drives just after halftime to take a 38-17 lead and cruised from there, thanks mostly to Berlin.
"They came out in the third quarter and put their foot down," Amato said.
In Miami's previous game against Louisville, Berlin helped the Hurricanes rally from a 17-point deficit in the final 20 minutes in what coach Larry Coker called the best performance of his career.
Berlin was even better in this one.
"There's no doubt about it," Coker said.
Two of Berlin's scoring tosses went to Roscoe Parrish, including a 27-yarder early in the second quarter on the first play after N.C. State's Bobby Washington fumbled on a kickoff return. Sinorice Moss, Quadtrine Hill and Lance Leggett caught the other touchdown passes, and Moss later dropped another sure score.
"First of all, they came out and played us man," Parrish said. "You cover any receiver man-to-man all game, it's like an insult."
Berlin finished 15-for-30 for 265 yards and added a couple of clutch third-down runs to keep drives going. Bernie Kosar, Steve Walsh and Ken Dorsey are the other players with five TD passes at Miami.
"That means a lot, it really does," Berlin said. "I'm in some really good company with those guys."
McLendon ran for 145 yards, but the Wolfpack still lost for the second straight time with him reaching triple figures. They had been 8-0 until the recent skid.
Jay Davis threw four touchdown passes for N.C. State, which couldn't overcome Washington's fumble and three other turnovers in the first half.
"It's a tough feeling losing this game because we felt like we made some key mistakes early in the game that if we hadn't made, they would have changed the outcome of the game," Davis said.
The first came as the Wolfpack were trailing 14-10 and driving. On third-and-6 from Miami's 34, Davis lofted a pass into double coverage, and Anthony Reddick made a diving interception at the 13.
Then, after N.C. State had great field position following a blocked punt, McLendon burst through the secondary on his way to the goal line. He got just inside the 10 before he fumbled, and the ball rolled through the end zone for a touchback.
Davis also gave up the ball as he was sacked by Kareem Brown late in the first half, and Brown returned it all the way to the N.C. State 18. But after an incompletion by Berlin, Jon Peattie hooked a 36-yard field goal, leaving the Hurricanes with a 28-17 lead.
"They're a very tough football team," Coker said of the Wolfpack. "They didn't disappoint us at all. I know they didn't win, but they should be very proud of their effort.