TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (PBP) -- Miami’s best season in nearly a decade took a drastic turn for the worse.
Sophomore running back Duke Johnson suffered a broken right ankle Saturday night against Florida State, an injury that will end his season, a source told The Palm Beach Post early today.
Johnson, who entered the game as the nation’s 12th-leading rusher, will have surgery this week. He was seen leaving the stadium on crutches, his ankle in a cast. He flew home on the team’s charter plane.
“I saw Duke, great spirits,” Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris said. “He’s doing fine. He’s in great spirits right now, talking to his teammates, trying to encourage us. Duke is Duke and he’ll be OK.”
Johnson’s injury came in what was billed as one of the college football season’s marquee games. The No. 7 Hurricanes lost 41-14 to No. 3 FSU at Doak Campbell Stadium in a nationally televised, prime-time game between in-state rivals.
After the 22-point underdog Hurricanes had a fine start to their night, they watched it spiral out of control. Morris threw two first-half touchdowns, but a pair of second-half interceptions. After holding Florida State to a 21-14 halftime lead, Miami’s defense had few answers for Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston.
The redshirt freshman added another piece to his Heisman Trophy resume, completing 21 of 29 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown. Miami intercepted him twice in the first half, scoring touchdowns on each, but wasn’t able to cover his receivers for four quarters. Winston went 11-of-15 over the final 30 minutes.
“Just too many little mistakes in the game,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “Once we started getting behind, it unraveled a little bit.”
The Hurricanes allowed a season-high 517 yards and gained just 275. They allowed the Seminoles to gain 7.1 yards per play. Running back Devonta Freeman, a Miami native who flashed the Hurricanes’ familiar “U” hand signal after one of his runs, had 176 total yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 78 yards and two scores and caught six passes for 98 yards and another touchdown.
Morris started 7-of-12 for 112 yards and two touchdowns, throwing a pair of pretty strikes to senior Allen Hurns. But Morris threw for just 80 yards after that, 34 coming on a garbage-time drive with less than a minute remaining. He finished 16-of-28 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
He threw a pair of second-half interceptions, which let FSU turn a close game into a rout.
“We were in a 21-14 game and obviously we put the defense on the field too many times there in the third quarter,” Golden said. “That’s a high-powered offense. Make no excuses. They executed better than we did.”
In a series that dates back to 1951 and has plenty of wild moments, there was no missed field goal, no botched snap or other late-game craziness. This was second-half domination by a better team. Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC
) looked every bit the quality of Alabama or Oregon, the other teams who have separated themselves from the other BCS Championship Game contenders.
It is still the best start in nine years for UM (7-1, 3-1), which had a chance to move to 8-0 for the first time since 2002. The Hurricanes haven’t beaten Florida State since 2009, when it pulled off a 38-34 win in Tallahassee, and has lost seven of the last nine meetings. UM hasn’t won a road game against a top-five team since beating Virginia Tech in 2005.
The Hokies (6-3, 3-2) are up next, coming to Sun Life Stadium this Saturday for a critical ACC Coastal
“I know exactly where we are as a team,” Golden said. “We lost to a really good football team. Now we’ve got to saddle up, get back on and move forward.”
They will do it without Johnson, who was hurt at 1:22 of the third quarter when he took a fourth-and-2 carry off the left tackle and was stopped by FSU tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample. Johnson’s right leg was twisted underneath the pile, his ankle bending forward at a sharp angle. He was helped off the field and was unable to put any weight on his right leg. He was seen in tears on the sideline before he driven on a cart to the locker room.
Johnson finished the game with 97 yards on 23 carries, after gaining just 27 yards against the Seminoles last season. He surpassed that on his first three touches. Johnson picked up 47 yards on his first nine carries, including a 14-yarder.
He already had missed approximately seven quarters of football in seven games. Entering the game, he was 12th nationally in yards per game (117.6) and was averaging 6.8 yards per carry on 17.4 carries per game.
Freeman scored a 5-yard touchdown on FSU’s first drive, and Miami’s Matt Goudis missed a 44-yard field goal on the ensuing drive. Then sophomore safety Deon Bush intercepted a Winston pass – his first career interception – and Morris threw a perfect 33-yard touchdown pass up the sideline to Hurns to even the score at 7.
But Florida State scored touchdowns its next two drives, going up 21-7 with 5:08 left in the first half when Winston read Miami’s blitz perfectly and threw a screen pass to Freeman, who raced 48 yards for the score. Mario Edwards Jr. followed that with a sack of Morris for a 14-yard loss, leading to a UM three-and-out. For the Hurricanes, the night looked like it was about to get out of hand.
Then Winston faltered, and Morris capitalized. FSU’s rising star threw his second interception of the night. He looked deep for tight end Nick O’Leary, but sophomore safety Rayshawn Jenkins hauled it in at UM’s 43-yard line. The Hurricanes picked up two quick first downs and stalled at FSU’s 25.
With a stadium-record 84,409 fans chanting their loudest on third-and-10, Morris scrambled for 9 yards. He came back to the huddle limping, appearing to have aggravated his troublesome right ankle. But he stood in and threw a 14-yard strike to Hurns, who got one foot down in the end zone while hanging onto the pass, which had been ticked slightly off path by a defensive back.
It cut the lead to 21-14. The Hurricanes received the kick to start the second half, but went three-and-out. James Wilder and Freeman punched in rushing touchdowns to make it 35-14 in the third. Roberto Aguayo booted two field goals in the fourth quarter.By then, Johnson was in the locker room, dealing with the news both he and his team feared.