7:30 PM ET, August 28, 2008
Sun Life Stadium, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI -- There's a giant inflatable helmet that the Miami Hurricanes are supposed to run through before every game, a tradition that dates back longer than anyone could remember.
Work crews couldn't get it pumped up Thursday night.
Alas, that was the closest thing Miami had to a major problem in its Dolphin Stadium debut.
Graig Cooper had a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown and rushed for another score, quarterback Jacory Harris accounted for two touchdowns and Miami moved into its new home with a 52-7 season-opening win over Charleston Southern.
"We wanted to come out and give a great show for the fans, and I think we did some great things on defense and some good things on offense," Miami linebacker Glenn Cook said. "But there's still some things we can work on."
Javarris James rushed 12 times for 73 yards and a touchdown for the Hurricanes (1-0), who took full control with a 21-point first quarter, their highest-scoring period since Sept. 9, 2006 against Florida A&M. Derron Thomas and Shawnbrey McNeal also had touchdown runs for Miami, which outgained its outmatched opponents from the Football Championship Subdivision 416-126.
It won't be so easy next weekend; the Hurricanes visit No. 5 Florida on Sept. 6.
"It's a big ball game for this team and for South Florida and an opportunity for us to go up there and play a great opponent," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "They've got a tremendous offense, tremendous defense and we feel great for the chance to go up there and play such a great team."
Harris was 16-for-26 for 190 yards for the Hurricanes, who didn't score more than 37 points in any game last season and eclipsed that with ease Thursday -- albeit against an opponent with just two winning seasons in its history.
"Things didn't happen the way we wanted, but you've got to expect that out of any football game," Reese said. "Especially when you're playing such a good opponent like Miami."
It was Miami's highest-scoring game since Oct. 8, 2005, a 52-7 win over Duke.
"I put my teammates in positions that they could make plays, not me," Harris said. "I learned if I could give the ball to my teammates, everything will be OK. I don't need to be the one going out there making spectacular plays."
Harris -- a true freshman -- got plenty of people involved; his 16 completions went to 11 different players.
"It felt like we had a junior or senior out there playing quarterback," James said. "He played good."
So by almost any measure, Miami's first home game in Dolphin Stadium went according to plan.
The Hurricanes ended a seven-decade stay at the decrepit, decaying -- and now destroyed -- Orange Bowl last season, and were lured north to the Miami Dolphins' home field, replete with modern amenities like luxury suites, gargantuan video screens and the potential for up to $5 million in new revenue for the private school's coffers each year.
The Dolphins' ring of honor for the likes of Don Shula and Dan Marino was covered, Miami's distinctive "U" logo shielded the entrance to the tunnels plus adorned the sidelines, and Hurricanes' flags flew on all sides along the outside of the facility.
Other than the orange-and-blue seats and baseball diamond, there was no proof that either the Dolphins or Florida Marlins played at the stadium, which drew 48,119 for the opener -- roughly two-thirds its capacity. In all, 47 busloads of Miami students made the 16 1/2-mile trip north from the Coral Gables campus.
"Seemed like a packed crowd to me," Shannon said.
Harris, a true freshman who started only because first-string quarterback Robert Marve was serving a one-game suspension for disciplinary reasons, opened the scoring with a 30-yard run on a fourth-down play 2:37 into the contest, and the points kept coming from there. James scored on a 7-yard run on the next possession, and Harris then hit Leonard Hankerson with a 7-yard TD pass that pushed the lead to 21-0.
"That's what we wanted to do, start fast," Shannon said.
Cooper scored on a 14-yard run early in the second quarter, then blew past everyone for his first career return touchdown to give Miami a 35-0 lead with 13:24 left in the third.
Reese scrambled right and made a desperate flip to Harris for Charleston Southern's score, which capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive. Thomas answered with a 5-yard run late in the third, restoring Miami's 35-point cushion, and McNeal capped the scoring with a 1-yard plunge with 2:33 remaining.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-14||6-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||2-2|
|TD||12:23||Jacory Harris 30 Yd Run (Matt Bosher Kick)||0||7|
|TD||04:29||Javarris James 7 Yd Run (Matt Bosher Kick)||0||14|
|TD||01:06||Leonard Hankerson 7 Yd Pass From Jacory Harris (Matt Bosher Kick)||0||21|
|TD||12:29||Graig Cooper 14 Yd Run (Matt Bosher Kick)||0||28|
|TD||13:24||Graig Cooper 66 Yd Punt Return (Matt Bosher Kick)||0||35|
|TD||03:39||Tyrese Harris 2 Yd Pass From Tribble Reese (John Paglia Kick)||7||35|
|TD||00:44||Derron Thomas 5 Yd Run (Matt Bosher Kick)||7||42|
|FG||08:43||Matt Bosher 22 Yd||7||45|
|TD||02:33||Shawnbrey Mcneal 1 Yd Run (Matt Bosher Kick)||7||52|