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Hurricanes cruise to a road win

Travis Benjamin catches one of his six passes, this one in front of Pittsburgh safety Dom DeCicco. Benjamin’s 10-yard touchdown put Miami up 24-3 in the fourth quarter.

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Travis Benjamin catches one of his six passes, this one in front of Pittsburgh safety Dom DeCicco. Benjamin’s 10-yard touchdown put Miami up 24-3 in the fourth quarter.

PITTSBURGH — Seven years after they last played as Big East members, nothing has changed in the Miami-Pitt series.

Jacory Harris led quick touchdown drives to start each half and No. 19 Miami dominated Pittsburgh much like it did when the schools were conference rivals, winning 31-3 on Thursday night.

Harris had two more floater-type interceptions like the four he threw in the Hurricanes' 36-24 loss at Ohio State two weeks ago, but shook them off to throw for two scores and 248 yards, going 21 of 32. Damien Berry ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. UM outgained Pitt 348-232.

The Hurricanes (2-1), faster, deeper and more athletic than the Panthers (1-2), never gave quarterback Tino Sunseri time to throw in his third college start. He was pulled in the fourth quarter after completing 8 of 15 passes for 61 yards.

Dion Lewis, the nation's leading returning rusher, was given little running room by an overwhelmed offensive line and ended up with 41 yards on 12 carries. Lewis, coming off a 1,799-yard season as a freshman, has been held to 143 yards in three games.

"When you can stop the run and make them one-dimensional, you have a good chance of winning," Miami linebacker Sean Spence said. "We always want to be the one to throw the first punch. We did a great job of starting fast."

With the Hurricanes up 17-3 early in the fourth, they forced a fumble by punt returner Cam Saddler. Harris took advantage to throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin that wrapped up Miami's seventh consecutive victory against Pitt and its 15th in 16 games dating to 1984.

"He managed the game well, he made some great throws and he did his job," Miami coach Randy Shannon said of Harris.

Pitt didn't advance inside the Miami 30 until the next-to-last play of the third quarter, and that was on a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. Hutchins kicked a 27-yard field goal to avoid Pitt's second shutout loss of the Dave Wannstedt era.

Pitt lost middle linebacker Dan Mason with a dislocated right knee midway through the third quarter. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Harris completed passes of 39 yards and 13 yards to Benjamin and 10 to Berry on an 80-yard, 10-play drive following the opening kickoff that ended with Berry's 1-yard touchdown run.

Pitt's offense had no life until Ray Graham replaced Lewis, who gained 6 yards on his first four carries. Graham ran for 20 yards in his first four carries, drawing cheers from Pitt's student section when he ran for the Panthers' initial first down with slightly less than six minutes left in the half.

At one point Miami led 12-0 in first downs, 161-1 in passing yards and 204-22 in total yards.

"We're just not in sync," Wannstedt said. "We'll make one good play on offense and two bad ones. If we need to make changes, we'll make changes. We've got to look at the offensive line."

No. 19 UM 31

Pittsburgh 3

Hurricanes cruise to a road win 09/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 24, 2010 12:18am]
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