Miami tight end Rob Chudzinski, not one of the team's speediest receivers, scored on a touchdown pass from quarterback Craig Erickson in the first quarter and handed the ball to a referee. The referee was laughing. Chudzinski, who runs with the grace of a Clydesdale, ambled to the Miami sideline expecting a hero's welcome for his rare touchdown. But the Hurricanes who greeted him were laughing, too.
It was an easy, lighthearted Saturday afternoon for Miami. The eighth-ranked Hurricanes had little difficulty dispatching Texas Tech 45-10 in front of 50,028 at Jones Stadium.
In doing so, Miami (5-2) received record-setting performances from some unusual characters.
Chudzinski, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder from Toledo, Ohio, caught a careerlong 32-yard touchdown pass from Erickson to give Miami a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first quarter. From then on, the Red Raiders (2-6) were unable to handle the "Man Called Chud" as he caught a career-high six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
"I'll get grief for the rest of my life," said Chudzinski, who was called "Swivel Hips" and "Walter Payton" by his teammates afterward. "I scored and handed the referee the ball, and he was laughing. I came to the bench, and they were laughing. Even the team priest was laughing."
Chudzinski's rambling performance opened up Miami's offense. The Hurricanes, who rolled up 563 yards and averaged 6.4 yards a play, scored on seven of their first 10 possessions to lead 45-3 with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter.
In addition to Chudzinski's touchdown reception, Erickson threw touchdowns of 11, 38 and 6 yards to sophomore flanker Lamar Thomas. Thomas' three catches set a Miami record for touchdown receptions in a game by a receiver.
"I didn't know it was a record," said Thomas, a gold No. 36 dangling from his neck. "When you think of all the great receivers Miami has had, it's unbelievable to think nobody else caught more than two touchdown catches in a game before."
With Chudzinski, Erickson and Thomas taking care of Miami's offense, another off-beat character contributed to the Hurricanes' stifling defense. Rusty Medearis, a 6-3, 245-pound redshirt freshman from Ozark, Mo., registered five sacks for minus-30 yards, according to Tech's game statistics. Miami had Medearis with seven sacks.
"A sack is what every lineman works for," said Medearis, who made his first start for injured Eric Miller (shoulder). "They don't come around much. I love the feeling of getting up after a sack and the whole crowd is looking at you. I was in the clouds."
As a team, Miami registered 10 sacks for 65 yards in losses. The Hurricanes restricted Texas Tech's bombarded offense to minus-10 yards rushing, 93 total yards and an average of 1.4 yards a play.
A 53-yard kickoff return by Rodney Blackshear set up Tech's first score, a 28-yard field goal by Lin Elliott that cut Miami's lead to 31-3 with 9:47 left in the third quarter. The Red Raiders' other score, a 3-yard run by Louis Sheffield with 12:02 left, was set up by a Miami fumbled punt at the Hurricanes' 16.
"I'm just glad we don't have to play Notre Dame," Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes said afterward. "They made it look easy. They certainly came to play. It was a good ol' country tail kicking."
Miami could have inflicted more pain on the Red Raiders but pulled its starters at the end of the third quarter. The Hurricanes had accomplished what they wanted by playing well in all areas of the game.
The decisive victory helped ease the bitter taste left from last week's 29-20 loss to Notre Dame that knocked Miami from No. 2 and gave the Hurricanes two losses for the first time since 1984.
"Miami is a different breed of cat," Dykes said, complimenting the Hurricanes. "They're multitalented with depth running out their ears."
Dykes, however, wasn't laughing.