MIAMI — The Hurricanes put their last-minute comeback hopes into Duke Johnson's hands, and he delivered.
Johnson ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the second a 1-yard plunge with 53 seconds left, as No. 7 Miami beat Wake Forest 24-21 Saturday to remain unbeaten and cap a wild week of emotions. The NCAA mess that overshadowed Miami for 2½ years finally ended Tuesday, and four days later, Johnson made sure there was cause for a second celebration.
"I wanted the ball," Johnson said. "So I went to coach, and we talked about it, and coach said, 'We're going to put it in your hands.' "
Smart move, Al Golden.
Johnson had 30 rushes, eight more than his previous collegiate best, and finished with 168 yards. In the fourth quarter alone, he had 14 carries for 85 yards, including the two go-ahead touchdown runs as the Hurricanes (7-0, 3-0 ACC) set up a showdown at Florida State next week and matched the program's best start since 2003.
"Clearly emotional. I'm not going to lie to you. Just an emotional week," said Golden, the coach who spent the first 30 games of his UM career waiting for the NCAA cloud to pass. "Now we can breathe and move forward. I was more worried than ever this week, just because nobody was really talking about Wake. Everybody was talking about the NCAA and obviously future scheduling."
Miami overcame a double-digit deficit for the third straight game and for the second straight time got the go-ahead score in the final seconds. Dallas Crawford's late touchdown run gave the Hurricanes a win at North Carolina on Oct. 17.
Wake Forest led for nearly 49 minutes, and it still didn't matter. Tanner Price completed 25 of 45 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 44-yard score to Dominique Gibson with 4:02 left — one play after Wake connected on a fourth-down opportunity — to give Wake a 21-17 lead.
It slipped away, and the Demon Deacons (4-4, 2-3) are now 1-53 all-time against Top 10 teams.
"It's tough in there right now," Price said, referring to the team's locker room. "It's really hard when you come this close and you don't come away with the W. It was right there in our grasp. I thought when we had that touchdown to give us 21 that we had a chance. It was just disappointing."
Defensive back and former Plant High standout Antonio Crawford's interception with 37 seconds left sealed it. Herb Waters had a touchdown catch, and Stephen Morris went 17-of-28 for 191 yards. Michael Campanaro had 10 catches for 88 yards for Wake.