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(Photo courtesy of HurricaneSports.com)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (HurricaneSports.com and AP) - It was a banner day for Carter Hucks.
That's what mattered to the Miami Hurricanes.
Duke Johnson became Miami's career leader in all-purpose yards, Brad Kaaya threw three touchdown passes plus ran for another, and the Hurricanes piled up 621 yards on the way to defeating Cincinnati 55-34 on Saturday.
Johnson gave the game ball afterward to Hucks, an 8-year-old who suffers from a rare blood disorder called fanconi anemia and spent most of the week around the Hurricanes. So on a day where a banner flew pregame calling for Miami coach Al Golden's firing, and another was unfurled during the game urging the ouster of defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, the players had plenty of perspective.
"He uplifted us," said Phillip Dorsett, who caught three passes for 143 yards, two of those grabs going for Miami touchdowns. "He helped us attack this game the way we did."
And they did attack, with five touchdown plays of 25 yards or more, one of them an interception return by Tyriq McCord.
Johnson finished with 162 rushing yards on only 10 carries and Joe Yearby added 113 on eight carries for Miami (4-3), giving the Hurricanes two 100-yard runners in the same game for the first time since 2003. Gus Edwards added 85 yards on the ground, including had a 40-yard touchdown run with 9:02 remaining.
"I thought all three phases played well and played hard," Golden said.
Playing with bruised ribs, Gunner Kiel completed 31 of 57 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns for the Bearcats (2-3), but was also intercepted three times. Carter Jacobs had a 27-yard fumble return for a late score for Cincinnati, which got three touchdowns in the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter.
"What you saw is what we've been doing the last five weeks," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Can't tackle anybody, keep giving up big plays. We looked like the Bad News Bears."
Miami got points on nine of its first 13 possessions.
Johnson had a career-long 80-yard run for a score in the first quarter for Miami. He now has 4,427 all-purpose yards, passing Santana Moss' mark of 4,394 and doing so in 14 fewer games.
"Duke, I owe you a game ball," Golden said.
Johnson, who rarely discusses his personal achievements, said he appreciated his latest record.
"My coaches and my teammates put me in the best position to get the record," said Johnson, who promised Hucks a game ball if he scored. "I couldn't do it myself."
Kaaya finished 17 of 24 for 286 yards, with a 79-yard scoring pass to Dorsett helping blow the game open in the third quarter. McCord made a juggling grab of an interception - the ball bounced off a receiver, then his own knee before he was able to haul it in, reverse field and find the end zone - to push Miami's lead to 31-10 early in the quarter.
Dorsett's score later in the third was his 16th catch of the year, raising his average per grab to a gaudy 34.3 yards. He also had a 28-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, helping Miami grab a 24-10 lead at the half.
"I'm never satisfied," Kaaya said. "But it was a good day overall for the offense."
Cincinnati has ventured away from home only twice this season, and has seen its defense struggle both times. Ohio State scored 50 against the Bearcats on Sept. 27, and the Hurricanes had 48 before substituting liberally early in the fourth quarter.
Max Morrison had a 45-yard touchdown catch for Cincinnati. Shaq Washington and Mekale McKay also had scoring receptions for the Bearcats.
"I played awful. Threw three picks. Can't do that and win a football game," Kiel said.
Ryan Williams, the presumed Miami starter at quarterback this season before tearing a knee ligament in the spring, entered in the fourth quarter for his first playing time of the season. The Hurricanes were penalized 13 times for 155 yards, their most since picking up 165 yards worth of flags against Boston College in 2000.