TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A few more performances like this, and maybe Malik Rosier will win over those skeptical Miami fans.
Rosier threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more, and the No. 21 Hurricanes outlasted upset-minded Toledo 49-24 on Saturday. Rosier was booed last weekend — during a game the Hurricanes won 77-0 over Savannah State — and that didn’t sit well with teammate DeeJay Dallas.
“Now he can stop being booed,” Dallas said after rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown against Toledo. “Stop booing Malik. I don’t like that. That’s not something that our fans should be about.”
The Hurricanes (2-1) never trailed and led 21-0 late in the first half, but Toledo (1-1) twice pulled back to within a touchdown. Even then, however, the defending Mid-American Conference champion couldn’t stop Rosier and Miami.
Rosier threw for 205 yards and ran for 80, and Jeff Thomas had five catches for 105 yards and a TD. The Hurricanes lost star safety Jaquan Johnson late in the second quarter to an apparent hamstring injury. He was back on the sideline using a stationary bike during the second half, but Miami’s defense was not the same without him.
Toledo scored touchdowns on its last possession of the first half and its first two of the second, but the early hole was too much to overcome. Mitchell Guadagni threw for two TDs for the Rockets.
“At times we were really rolling and everyone was doing their jobs,” Toledo receiver Diontae Johnson said. “We just need to take care of the mistakes we made in the second half.”
It was 21-7 at halftime, and the Hurricanes had plenty of answers when Toledo made a game of it in the third quarter. Dallas ran for a 19-yard TD to put Miami up 28-14, and Rosier’s 5-yard scoring pass to Lawrence Cager made it 35-21.
“This shouldn’t be like a one- or two-game wonder,” Rosier said. “Our offense should score 40-plus points every game.”
Toledo settled for a field goal on its next drive, and Rosier broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run to make it 42-24 with 12:18 remaining in the game.
“We beat a really good team,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “Toledo is outstanding and well coached. They are used to winning and it was a good battle until it got a little out of hand at the end.”
Toledo gave the Hurricanes a tough game last year but ultimately lost 52-30 at Miami.
Miami: The Hurricanes are fighting an uphill battle to get back in the national title picture after a season-opening loss to LSU. They have an obvious concern if Jaquan Johnson’s injury turns out to be a nagging one, but Rosier and Thomas were more than Toledo’s defense could handle.
Toledo: The Rockets aren’t seeking moral victories. They’ve beaten teams such as Arkansas and Iowa State over the past few years, and they obviously hoped for a better showing against Miami. This was still anyone’s game in the third quarter, but not so much in the fourth.
“The score isn’t what we wanted, it’s obviously not what we planned,” Toledo coach Jason Candle said. “But there were some moments where we were taking some punches from a heavyweight opponent and staring them right back in the eyes.”
Miami was charged with zero penalties for zero yards in the final stat book — that doesn’t include a couple kickoffs that went out of bounds. The Hurricanes couldn’t have asked for much more in terms of avoiding mistakes. They also had no turnovers and didn’t allow any sacks.
MOVING THE CHAINS
Miami was 4 of 6 on third down in the third quarter, and after one of those two failures, the Hurricanes went for it on fourth down and converted. For the game, Miami controlled the ball for 35:29, which was emblematic of the trouble Toledo’s defense had getting off the field.
Diontae Johnson had six catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns, but Toledo’s other two standout receivers — Jon’Vea Johnson and Cody Thompson — combined for only three receptions.
Teams like Miami don’t play road games like this very often. There’s a lot to lose and not much to gain, but it will be interesting to see if voters reward the Hurricanes for a convincing road win over a strong MAC program.
Miami: Hosts Florida International next Saturday.
Toledo: Hosts Nevada next Saturday.