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September 20, 2007Game Ticker
MIAMI- For one night, everything worked for the Miami Hurricanes, who finally got that signature win the program has craved for a couple of years.
The win was only Miami's second in its last nine games against a ranked opponent dating to the end of the 2005 season.
And it was never in doubt.
The Hurricanes (3-1) held the Aggies (3-1) to 38 yards in the first half in taking a 24-0 lead, ensuring their final Thursday night game at the venerable Orange Bowl would be a memorable one.
"It was a Thursday night game, prime time, so the nation got to come out and see what we really have as a University of Miami football team," Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon said. "I'm pleased with the victory, but I just said in the locker room ... we'll come back Sunday and get ready for our next opponent, which is Duke."
Wright completed 21 of 26 passes, finding Cooper with one scoring throw and Chris Zellner with another late in the third quarter to push the lead to 31-0. Sam Shields had six catches for 117 yards for Miami, which had three scoring drives take a combined 1 minute, 9 seconds.
The Aggies entered averaging 46.3 points, scoring at least 38 in every game. Those numbers plummeted against the Hurricanes, who said a spotlight national TV game like this represented the perfect chance to make a statement.
It came through loud and clear.
Texas A&M's three leading rushers - McGee, Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane - came into the game averaging a combined 235 yards, a big reason why the Aggies' were ranked fifth nationally in rushing offense with nearly 300 yards per outing as a team.
That trio rushed for 21 first-half yards and 69 for the game. Lane had no carries in the first half, and the Aggies didn't get on the board until Matt Szymanski's 32-yard field goal with 11:40 left.
By then, the outcome was decided, and the Miami mood was so joyous that university president Donna Shalala was posing for photos with smiling guests on the sideline as the clock ticked down.
"We just got beat, got beat by a better team," Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione said.
Miami scored 10 points off three Texas A&M turnovers in the final 3:40 of the half - more midweek magic for the Hurricanes, who won their final 10 Thursday games in the Orange Bowl.
And Wright may have played the best game of his Miami career, too.
On their first possession, Wright and the Hurricanes quickly set the tone. They had an 18-play, 80-yard drive, highlighted by Wright going 5-for-5 on third downs and took a 7-0 lead when Cooper took a direct snap and rumbled 7 yards for a score.
The direct snap, a new Miami wrinkle for this game, had a big role in the Hurricanes' second score.
"It's something we've had in our arsenal," Shannon said, noting Miami installed it during spring practice.
Miami got inside the Texas A&M 10 on a fortunate bounce; Wright's pass hit off Darnell Jenkins' hands, caromed off Aggies' linebacker Mark Dodge, and landed on Jenkins - who was on the ground and made the catch.
Indeed, it was that kind of night for Miami, which finished with a 402-240 edge in total yards.
Wright was spread right like a wide receiver on third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 plays inside the Aggies' 5. Javarris James took both snaps, eventually got the first down, then scored from 1 yard out for a 14-0 lead.
But Goodson fumbled the ball away on the next possession. Calais Campbell recovered for Miami and the Hurricanes needed one play to go up 21-0. Wright hit Cooper with a screen pass and the freshman did the rest, barreling in from 12 yards out with 33 seconds left in the half.
It got worse for Texas A&M. After a short kickoff, Cody Wallace - an offensive lineman - fumbled the ensuing return, the Hurricanes recovered again and Zampogna hit a 45-yarder as time expired in the half.