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Miami Hurricanes top Duke Blue Devils 52-45

DURHAM, N.C. — Nobody could stop anything named Duke on Saturday. Not the Blue Devils' defense and definitely not Miami's, either.

That led to a bunch of big plays and an unforgettable finale for the Hurricanes' seniors.

Freshman Duke Johnson rushed for season highs of 176 yards and three touchdowns, Stephen Morris had three passing scores and Miami held on to beat Duke 52-45 for a share of the ACC's Coastal Division title.

Morris was 15-of-25 for 369 yards for the Hurricanes, who outgained Duke 646-583 and never trailed but could never really breathe easy, either.

Playing for the first time since self-imposing a second straight postseason ban that keeps them out of both a bowl game and next week's league title game, the Hurricanes finished the wild affair that saw 1,229 total yards, five touchdowns that covered at least 20 yards, two 21-point Miami leads that were cut to seven, two onside kicks and an attempted fake punt.

"I'm not surprised that it was this type of game," Miami coach Al Golden said. "It was such an emotional week, when you think about the range of emotions. … When they came storming back, just the way they did it with a 99-yard play, I felt like, 'Oh man, now we've got to respond. Do we have enough in the tank to respond?' "

Sean Renfree threw for a career-high 432 yards and a career-high-tying four touchdowns — including a 99-yarder, the longest play in school history — in his final home game for Duke. Brandon Connette's second touchdown run pulled the Blue Devils within seven with 2:32 left.

But Miami (7-5, 5-3 ACC) denied Duke (6-6, 3-5) its seventh win.

"We're right there. It's like being at the top of a wall, you've got both hands and fingers got a firm grip of it," Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe said. "But if you don't have anything really left in you, you're not going to climb over it."

Morris' touchdown passes covered 11 yards to Clive Walford, 72 to Mike James and 65 to Herb Waters. James also had a 1-yard scoring plunge late in the first half.

Johnson scored on runs of 18, 6 and 65 yards. He finished with 947 yards rushing, easily surpassing Clinton Portis' 13-year-old school freshman rushing record of 838.

Renfree hit Jamison Crowder for a 99-yard score with 11:45 left to get Duke within 45-31. He was 36 of 59.

With Miami's sanction, Georgia Tech (6-6, 5-3) — which lost to Miami — heads to Charlotte, N.C., for next weekend's title game against Florida State. Some fans in the Hurricanes' corner of Wallace Wade Stadium held posters bearing anti-NCAA messages.

"We've given up a lot," Golden said. "We gave up a bowl game last year, we're giving up a bowl game this year, and now we've given up a (league title) game in Charlotte. … We've given up three games in the postseason to right the ship."

Miami Hurricanes top Duke Blue Devils 52-45 11/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 24, 2012 9:26pm]
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