MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Mark Walton was in tears on the sideline, fearing that his season might be over because of whatever was causing the intense pain in his left ankle.
Vinny Scavo came to the rescue.
Turns out, a creative tape job from Miami’s head athletic trainer was all Walton needed.
Walton turned 11 carries into a career-high 204 yards, quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns to remain unbeaten as a starter and the 14th-ranked Hurricanes shook off a putrid second quarter to beat Toledo 52-30 on Saturday.
“I think it was a great performance,” Walton said.
At times, it was.
Travis Homer ran for two touchdowns and Braxton Berrios, Dayall Harris and Christopher Herndon each caught TD throws for the Hurricanes (2-0), who hadn’t played in 21 days because of the effects of Hurricane Irma. Miami had six players cramp during the game, one needing intravenous fluids, and trailed 16-10 at the half before taking control.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Miami coach Mark Richt said, talking about returning from the long storm layoff. “It has been an emotional roller-coaster for a lot of us. So many things that you’ve got to be thinking through and planning and making decisions on and just figuring out a way … and then to try to regroup and start thinking about football again.”
Walton missed about half the game with his ankle problem and was taken out with 199 yards, then successfully lobbied Richt to get one more carry — after promising to not get hurt. He now has 28 touchdowns, 26 of them rushing, in 28 collegiate games.
Logan Woodside completed 28 of 48 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns for Toledo (3-1), which cut a 22-point deficit down to eight midway through the fourth quarter. Terry Swanson rushed 20 times for 79 yards for the Rockets, who outgained Miami 186-32 in the second quarter and outscored the Hurricanes 16-0 in that period.
Rosier then had three touchdown passes in a four-minute stretch of the second half to open a 38-16 lead, before Toledo got within 38-30 on a pair of TD passes from Woodside in less than two minutes.
“I definitely think that you can never count this team out,” Woodside said. “That’s one thing that I love about these guys. They never quit. We showed a lot of fight in us tonight. We could very easily lay down, but we didn’t do that and I don’t think we ever will.”
The Hurricanes punted the ball away on their first possession of the second half, then got touchdowns each of the next four times they touched the ball. An eight-play, 91-yard drive got the Hurricanes going, with Rosier connecting with Mike Harley for 19 yards on 3rd-and-18 one play before Homer — then playing because Walton was out — scored on a 12-yard carry to put Miami back on top.
Rosier ran in from 23 yards out on the next Miami possession to help finally put away the game.
“Composure, that was the biggest thing,” said Rosier, now 3-0 as a starter. “We took the lead at first and they wound up taking it back. The first half, they really had us. … Second half, as you can tell, the offense really started clicking.”
Toledo: The Rockets don’t like making things easy for themselves. A week after rallying from a 28-7 deficit to beat Tulsa 54-51, the Rockets quickly got into a 10-0 hole against Miami — then held the Hurricanes scoreless for the next 28 minutes, before things went awry. … It could be a costly loss for Toledo. Rockets LG Yazeed Atariwa was taken off on a cart in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
Miami: The Hurricanes got two replay reviews to go their way on successive plays in the fourth. First, DB Sheldrick Redwine’s flag for targeting was overturned, and then a two-point conversion by the Rockets that was called good on the field was also erased by video. … Berrios had a career-best 105 receiving yards. His previous best was 64. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it felt incredible,” Berrios said.
Walton became the sixth FBS player in the last decade to rush for 200 yards on no more than 11 carries. He had an 82-yard run in the first half, tying for the sixth-longest in Miami history. He’s also the fifth Hurricane to run for at least 200, joining Edgerrin James, Duke Johnson, Lorenzo Roan and Willis McGahee.
Toledo: The Rockets get next week off, then open their Mid-American Conference schedule at home against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 7.
Miami: The Hurricanes open Atlantic Coast Conference play Friday night at Duke.
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