Having not played a football game in three weeks, the Miami Hurricanes had to shake away some noticeable rust in order to defeat the Toledo Rockets. At halftime there was plenty of anticipation as to how the Miami Hurricanes would respond being down in their first real test of the season. Miami would use a resurgent second half to put the game away, but it did not come without it’s share of rocky moments. The unanimous star of the game was Mark Walton, who became the sixth player in the last decade to rush for 200 yards in 11 carries or less.
Shaky Second Quarter
After jumping out and scoring the first 10 points of the game, behind Walton and his 137 yards on his first six carries, things would reach a halt. This, in large part to an injury to Walton that sidelined him until late in the third quarter.
Toledo would take full advantage of the absence, scoring 16 unanswered points in the second quarter. Miami didn’t score at all and looked for an answer to stop the Rockets offense, but not before Logan Woodside would connect for a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jon’Vea Johnson. To make matters worse, Toledo would get another field goal on the board right before the half.
After just 50 yards passing from Malik Rosier in the first half, he came out on fire to finish the game with a new career high with 333 passing yards in his third career start. In the second half, after noticing man-to-man coverage from the Toledo defense, Rosier hit several big plays down the field. Those big throws were monumental for Miami as they roared to score 42 second-half points and three passing touchdowns from Rosier.
The leading recipient of those big plays came from Braxton Berrios, who had a career day himself celebrating his first 100-yard receiving game at Miami. The North Carolina native had a 55-yard reception which led to Miami scoring a touchdown, and shortly after that joined the touchdown party on a 19-yard scamper. Dating back to the Russell Athletic Bowl, Berrios has now scored touchdowns in three consecutive games.
Money Mark Walton
Coming into this season, there was only one running back in the ACC returning with a 1,000 yard season and thanks to the Toledo defense he might possibly go for another. The only thing that slowed Walton down against the Rockets was an injury. His backfield mate Travis Homer did a good job while he was out wearing the Toledo defense down, breaking several of their tackles, and scoring two touchdowns of his own.
Walton would return late in the third quarter and eclipse the 200-yard marker for the first time in his career. In the first quarter of the game, Walton scored a touchdown, the 28th in his career in 28 career games. The rushing touchdown is his 26th, which ties him for 5th in school history.
The preseason all-ACC pick is currently second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing yards after just two games and 27 carries. If he remains healthy and the offensive line continues their progress Walton has a good chance to lead the conference in rushing.
After defeating a good MAC opponent, considering the fact that the Hurricanes were away from football for weeks due to Hurricane Irma, the performance was a good one. The Hurricanes defensive line pressured the Toledo offense in critical moments sacking Woodside four times and holding Toledo to only 81 rushing yards with just an average of 2.3 yards per attempt. Stark contrast from Miami, which averaged 9.8 yards per attempt and was 13 yards away from 600 in total yards.
Looking ahead, things get very interesting with Miami going on the road to Duke on a Friday. Duke is undefeated and interestingly enough, is the same place where Rosier started his first career game. Duke will definitely have revenge on their mind after Miami’s last victory in Durham.