Hurricanes too much for Devils|Harris, defense lead Miami to win

Published 11:32 pm Sunday, October 17, 2010

By Staff
JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
DURHAM — Micanor Regis likes to teach Miami’s defensive backs the proper way to break in front of passes and intercept them. Just one problem: Who would ever take that type of advice from a 305-pound defensive tackle?
Maybe the Hurricanes should.
Regis returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown, one of the season-high seven turnovers Miami forced during its 28-13 victory over Duke on Saturday.
“Big Regis, he’s a funny character,” Vaughn Telemaque said. “He’s always messing with us as defensive backs and going to catch balls and trying to teach us techniques of how to catch the ball. He came up real big, and he came up with the touchdown.”
Jacory Harris threw for one touchdown and ran for another. He finished 17 of 34 for 224 yards in his first interception-free game since the opener for the Hurricanes (4-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who bounced back from last week’s lopsided loss to rival Florida State by rolling up 448 total yards and shutting down one of the league’s top passing offenses.
Telemaque had two of Miami’s five interceptions, all thrown by Sean Renfree, and the Blue Devils fumbled twice.
“It’s all self-inflicted wounds,” Renfree said. “It’s nothing they were doing.”
But no question, it was Regis who came up with the play of the day to end Duke’s first possession of the second half. The big defensive tackle dropped into coverage, stepped in front of Renfree’s pass and rumbled into the end zone to stretch Miami’s lead to 21-3.
“I’ve got to score,” Regis recalled himself thinking during his run. “It was so close that I could touch it.”
Damien Berry rushed for 111 yards, and his 1-yard score in the third put the Hurricanes up 28-10. Harris threw a 14-yard touchdown to Leonard Hankerson on the first play of the second quarter, dumping the ball off in the flat that allowed the 6-foot-3 wideout do the rest himself, flipping over the goal line to make it 7-3. Those two also hooked up just before halftime on a 33-yard gainer one play before Harris scrambled in untouched from 13 yards out, pushing the lead to 14-3.
The Blue Devils’ defense — the worst in the ACC — kept them in the game early by stifling three fourth-down conversion attempts in the first half, including a fake punt.
Then again, the Hurricanes could afford to take a few chances with the league’s best defense playing like this.
A Miami D that entered ranked No. 4 nationally against the pass harassed Renfree and locked down on the ACC’s top two receivers: Duke’s Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, who entered averaging 6.8 and 6.2 catches, respectively.
Varner’s first catch didn’t come until there were 3? minutes left in the half and Duke was down by double figures, and he finished with four catches for 50 yards. Vernon didn’t catch a ball until the fourth quarter. Duke, which averaged 295 yards passing, was held to 187.
Renfree threw three interceptions in the first half, was sacked twice and his fumbled snap in the pistol formation led to the Hurricanes’ second touchdown.
“If we get turnovers, it’s because we’re getting sacks. If we’re getting sacks, we’re getting some type of turnover — maybe a quarterback hit, interception, because like anything, if the quarterback’s throwing off his back foot, bad things happen,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “That’s what you want, and those guys … pressured the quarterback, got some hits on the quarterback, got some sacks on him, and they gave us an opportunity to get some interceptions.”
Renfree, who has thrown at least three interceptions in three of five games, finished 18 of 38 for 157 yards for Duke.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said he told his team that “the bottom line is, you will never win a game doing what we did today, and that’s giving the ball away.
“The sad part of it is, so many things were done well enough to win,” he added. “We simply turned the ball over at a rate that’s unheard of.”
The Blue Devils lost their fifth straight overall and their ninth in a row against Bowl Subdivision teams. They haven’t beaten one since winning at Virginia on Oct. 31, 2009.
Technically, Renfree wasn’t the starter at quarterback for Duke. A fumble on the opening kickoff gave the Blue Devils the ball at the Miami 8, so they opened with a short-yardage offensive set with Brandon Connette under center. That drive went nowhere — a clear sign of things to come — so Duke settled for Will Snyderwine’s 25-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Connette scored Duke’s only touchdown from 1 yard out midway through the third, closing it to 21-10. Snyderwine also converted from 43 yards out with 6:14 left.