7:00 PM ET, October 14, 2006
ORANGE BOWL, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- South Florida's newest rivalry has already overheated.
Miami beat Florida International 35-0 Saturday night in a game marred by a wild brawl in the third quarter that had fists flying, helmets swinging and even crutches being used as weapons.
In all, 13 players were ejected -- eight from FIU, five from Miami, and each will likely face one-game suspensions.
It was the first meeting between the programs, whose campuses are 9 miles apart and have rosters almost entirely filled with players from Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the two largest in South Florida. Tensions were high throughout the night, with several occurrences of heated words being exchanged after plays ended.
But those verbal jousts were nothing compared with what happened with 9:00 left in the third.
James Bryant caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wright, then drew a 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. After making the catch, he appeared to point at the FIU (0-7) bench, then took a theatrical bow toward the stands.
Moments later, Jon Peattie kicked the extra point and the melee began; replays showed an FIU player crashing into Miami holder Matt Perrelli. Pushing among players quickly turned into punches, both sidelines quickly emptied and several fights broke out within seconds.
The brawl lasted about five minutes, and it took officials several more minutes to sort out the penalties. More than two dozen uniformed police officers came onto the field, trying to end the fights, and at least one incident of fan fighting broke out in the Orange Bowl stands.
Police officers, including some wearing helmets, continued to surround the perimeter of the field for the remainder of the game.
Florida International's ejected players were wide receiver Chandler Williams, defensive backs Lionell Singleton, Chris Smith and Marshall McDuffie Jr., fullback John Ellis, linebacker Mannie Wellington, tight end Samuel Smith and defensive end Jarvis Penerton.
The ejected Miami players were offensive linemen Derrick Morse and Chris Barney, running back Charlie Jones, and cornerbacks Carlos Armour and Bruce Johnson.
Police did not immediately announce if any fans were arrested. A holding area was set up at the Orange Bowl to detain anyone ejected and Miami Police had between 80 and 100 officers at the game, officials said.
Shortly after the game, new FIU athletic director Pete Garcia -- who left his associate AD post at Miami this past week to join the Golden Panthers -- issued an apology on behalf of the university.
Garcia added that he would evaluate what happened before deciding whether to continue the rivalry.
Wright was 14-of-22 for 117 yards for Miami, which won its season-best third straight game. Leggett (seven catches) and Sam Shields (five) each had 77 receiving yards for the Hurricanes.
Chris Zellner also had a touchdown catch for Miami, and Derron Thomas' 11-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
Miami's defense held FIU to 114 yards in recording its first shutout win since Sept. 18, 2004 -- a 48-0 win over Louisiana Tech.
Julian Reams had 21 carries for 45 yards to lead FIU. Josh Padrick completed 12 of 25 passes for 86 yards for the Golden Panthers.
The teams are scheduled to play again Oct. 6, 2007 at the Orange Bowl.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-14||3-10|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-1|
|TD||1:45||LANCE LEGGETT 11 YD PASS FROM KYLE WRIGHT (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||9:00||JAMES BRYANT 5 YD PASS FROM KYLE WRIGHT (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||0:38||CHRIS ZELLNER 1 YD PASS FROM KYLE WRIGHT (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 15 yards.
|TD||7:27||LANCE LEGGETT 7 YD PASS FROM KIRBY FREEMAN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||3:18||DERRON THOMAS 11 YD RUN (JON PEATTIE KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 27 yards.