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(Photo courtesy of Miami Athletics)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (HurricaneSports.com and AP) - Duke Johnson had more than 100 close friends and relatives in the stands for his first home game since a broken ankle prematurely ended his sophomore season.
They could have left at halftime.
His night was over, and so was any doubt about the outcome.
Phillip Dorsett caught two touchdown passes, Johnson became the ninth back in Miami history to eclipse the 2,000-yard career rushing mark and the Hurricanes rolled past Florida A&M 41-7 Saturday night.
"It wasn't perfect," said Miami coach Al Golden, who coached his 100th game overall and evened his record at 50-50. "But I think we got better in a lot of different areas. Some other areas, we've got to continue to make progress in. We played a lot of guys, which was great, and I thought a lot of those guys played really soundly when they came in."
Johnson's mother obtained plenty of tickets for everyone in her group, and was at the stadium five hours before kickoff to lay out a massive tailgate party for what she dubbed the "Return of the Duke."
Her son needed only nine carries to pick up 97 yards.
"I think it meant more to my mom than it did me," Johnson said after his first home game since Oct. 26. "She got together a big crowd, a big fan base, to sit in one section for the game. I think it was more for her than me."
Dorsett had scoring grabs of 4 and 32 yards from Brad Kaaya for the Hurricanes (1-1), who beat the Rattlers for the ninth straight time. Johnson had a 1-yard scoring run, Gus Johnson ran 15 yards for another score and Trayone Gray's first career carry was a 10-yard TD rush late in the fourth quarter.
Kaaya completed 12 of 22 passes for 177 yards in the first home game of his Hurricanes career, with the two touchdowns and two interceptions. Miami's Trayone Gray had a 10-yard touchdown run, on the first carry of his career, with 4:17 left.
"I'm not a big stats guy," Kaaya said. "I'm just a big wins guy. That's all I care about is wins."
Florida A&M (0-2) brought its famed band down from Tallahassee, and the "Marching 100," as expected, put on a scintillating show at halftime, replete with the performers lining up in a "305" formation, a nod to the primary area code in the Miami area.
By then, though, the game was decided.
The Hurricanes got touchdowns on four of their first six possessions, rolling out to a 28-0 lead late in the first half. There were 27 plays in the first quarter, with the line of scrimmage on every one, regardless of who had the ball, being in Florida A&M territory. Miami opened drives on the Rattlers' 49 twice and another on their 13.
John Boston recovered a botched punt snap in the end zone for Florida A&M. Brandon Norwood had 74 yards on three catches for the Rattlers.
"We played a good football team," Norwood said. "They were a great defense. We knew coming in what we were going to face."
Florida A&M quarterback Damien Fleming completed 6 of 14 passes for 89 yards, before departing after aggravating a foot injury. Fleming had the Rattlers moving early in the third quarter, before a drive stalled, and his night ended, when Thurston Armbrister sacked him for a 14-yard loss on third down from the Miami 17.
"He went down the whole left side of my body," Fleming said.
Dorsett's 4-yard touchdown opened the scoring. His 32-yard catch in the back of the end zone late in the half made it 28-0, Dorsett diving near the end line to make that play. Johnson had a 1-yard run for Miami's second score, and his 55-yard carry highlighted the drive that was capped by Edwards' touchdown and pushed Miami's lead to 21-0.
Johnson has played in 22 games for Miami, with rushing touchdowns in 12 of them. Miami is now 12-0 in those games, and Johnson continued his climb up the Miami all-time lists, passing Edgerrin James for No. 5 in all-purpose yards and Frank Gore for No. 9 in career rushing by a Hurricane.
Johnson now has 2,054 rushing yards at Miami.
"It's a great feeling, just being compared to a lot of great running backs that came through here," Johnson said.
The Hurricanes improved to 179-4 since 1985 when scoring at least 31 points.