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UM keeps running, all the way to .500

Detractors might be nitpicking their schedule, but the Hurricanes will take whatever edge they can get.

Don't remind them their recent three wins were against bottom-feeders, teams with a combined record of 7-19.

To the Hurricanes, all that counts is they're back to .500. Saturday's 42-10 win against Arkansas State was the third straight for the Hurricanes, suddenly feeling much better about themselves.

"We got our clicker back today," center Mike Wehner said. "We lost it sometime back, and we had been looking for it."

What the Hurricanes (4-4) found during the past three weeks was a running game. They haven't let go of it.

Miami rushed for a season-high 340 yards, going over 300 for the third straight game, a first for the school. Edgerrin James led the way with 151 on 13 carries.

Of Miami's six touchdowns, five came on the ground.

"I wish we could run the ball every play," Wehner said. "Of course, we're not going to do that, but these last three games show what we're capable of."

The Hurricanes step up in competition next week against Virginia Tech in a nationally televised game at Blacksburg. In the wings are winless Rutgers and Syracuse in the Nov. 29 season finale at home.

"Obviously the next three are going to be more difficult," coach Butch Davis said. "But we're not going to apologize for winning. We're 4-4, we've won three in a row, and we have to get ready for this next one."

Joining James on the 100-yard register was second-year freshman James Jackson, who had 115 on 10 attempts. He scored on runs of 41 and 39 yards, giving him 11 TDs. He has 826 yards rushing overall.

"We had our share of problems at the beginning of the year, but now things are picking up," James said.

Jackson finished the scoring with a dazzling 56-yard sprint. He also had a 19-yard run to set up a 1-yard TD plunge by backup quarterback Scott Covington.

The ground game was more than enough to make up for a non-existent passing attack. The Hurricanes attempted just 16 passes, completing seven. Starter Ryan Clement did little more than hand the ball off. He was 6-of-11 for 99 yards.

Clement did work in one big play _ a 60-yard strike to freshman Daryl Jones that put Miami ahead 21-7 in the second quarter.

"I got to rest my arm," said Clement, who seemed a bit irritated at being pulled in favor of Covington with UM up 35-7 in the third quarter.

Arkansas State (1-8) had 20 first downs to Miami's 16. The Indians hung with the Hurricanes for most of the first half, then withered.

"We played with a lot of heart, and you have to give our coaches credit for that," Indians coach Joe Hollis said. "I deem the day a success. The difference was the talent on the field, and Miami has great team speed."

For the second straight week, the game did not begin well for Miami. Last week the Hurricanes fumbled the opening kickoff against Temple and trailed 7-0.

Saturday the 'Canes lost the ball on their first play from scrimmage. Clement's pass was picked off by cornerback Chappell Mitchell and returned 10 yards to the 26.

The Indians, though, gave the ball right back. Quarterback Cleo Lemon scrambled to Miami's 13 and fumbled; cornerback Duane Starks recovered.

Freshman Santana Moss went 39 yards on a reverse to put Miami ahead 7-0 with 8:28 left in the first quarter. The Indians tied it at 7 on a 1-yard run by Lemon.

Miami responded with James' 41-yard run and Clement's hookup with Jones for a 21-7 halftime lead.