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Oct. 22, 2011
MIAMI (AP) - JoJo Nicholas recovered a fumbled punt for a touchdown plus added an interception, Lamar Miller ran for 93 yards and a score and Miami's banged-up defense was dominant as the Hurricanes topped No. 20 Georgia Tech 24-7 on Saturday.
Mike James also had a touchdown run for Miami (4-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won consecutive games for the first time this season and has now beaten Georgia Tech three straight times.
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Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2) came into Saturday averaging 517 yards of offense this season. The Yellow Jackets got only 211 on Saturday, their lowest total since a loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl after the 2009 season.
Since the start of the 2009 season, Georgia Tech has rushed for less than 200 yards only three times - all of them at Sun Life Stadium. The Yellow Jackets got 95 yards on the ground when they visited Miami in 2009, ran for 143 at the end of that season in the Orange Bowl, and then managed 134 against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Jacory Harris threw for 140 yards on only 8-of-23 passing for Miami. The Hurricanes won easily anyway.
Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington threw the ball right to Nicholas on the Yellow Jackets' first offensive snap of the game, a mistake that set Miami up at the Georgia Tech 46. It was doubly costly for the Yellow Jackets, with center Jay Finch going down with what appeared to be a knee injury and eventually getting carted off the sideline for evaluation.
The Hurricanes needed 12 plays to score from there, Harris extending the drive with a 13-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett on fourth-and-3 from the 39, and James later capping it with a 2-yard run for a 7-0 Miami lead.
Nicholas' other big plays in the first half?
Lots of hustle, and lots of help from Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech wide receiver Roddy Jones took a pitch and ran 34 yards with 4:09 left in the first quarter, fighting Nicholas off a little too vehemently for the last few of those. Jones was pulled down by an illegal horse-collar tackle, but he also got his fingers inside Nicholas' face mask while stiff-arming the Miami safety on the play. The penalties offset, and the big gain was wiped away.
With 10:17 left in the half, Nicholas found himself again in the right place at the right time for Miami.
Zach Laskey dropped back to received a punt for Georgia Tech, the bouncing ball coming straight at him as he stood at the 9-yard line. He tried to grab it as a horde of Hurricanes sprinted toward him, misplayed it and could only watch as the football kept going into the end zone. Nicholas dove on it just past the goal line for a touchdown that put Miami up 14-0.
In the first half alone, Georgia Tech failed on a fake-punt attempt, had the interception to help create one Miami touchdown and then the blown punt return to give the Hurricanes seven more points. Nonetheless, with 1:02 left in the half, the Yellow Jackets were within 14-7.
A 20-play, 92-yard drive for Georgia Tech on the scoreboard. Washington completed all three of his attempted passes during the marathon possession, plus rushed the ball nine times for 22 yards - including a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Miami answered, and fast.
Travis Benjamin ran the ensuing kickoff back 48 yards, and Harris hit Tommy Streeter with a 32-yard gain on first down to get Miami to the Georgia Tech 14. Two plays later, Miller ran up the middle for a touchdown from there with 25 seconds left in the half, restoring the 14-point cushion and getting help from a sealing block by guard Jon Feliciano.
It was a costly celebration. Feliciano got hurt jumping around after the score, leaving the game with a leg injury. He rejoined his teammates on the sideline late in the third quarter, on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his left ankle.