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East Carolina Makes It Too Easy for Miami, 31-7

From Times Wire Services

Steve Walsh said 4th-ranked Miami may have had it too easy.

Walsh threw 4 touchdown passes Saturday, the 4th straight game he has had at least that many, and the Hurricanes pulled away for a 31-7 victory over East Carolina.

“We may have taken things for granted after moving the ball downfield so easily,” Walsh said of Miami’s opening drive. “We got a little sloppy.”

The Hurricanes (6-1) finally took command when Bubba McDowell blocked a punt early in the 4th quarter and Sandy Jack recovered the ball at the East Carolina 8. On the next play, Walsh hit Andre Brown with a scoring pass to give Miami a 24-7 lead.

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The blocked kick was set up after East Carolina appeared to have recovered Darryl Spencer’s fumbled punt in Miami territory. But offsetting penalties forced John Jett to punt again and the Hurricanes took advantage.

“I thought we’d be able to block a punt today, but I thought it would come from the outside,” McDowell said. “On the block, I moved inside and I just came free.”

Walsh threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rod Chudzinski with 6:52 left, giving him 42 career touchdown passes and 2nd place on the all-time Miami list behind Vinny Testaverde’s 48.

Walsh, who passed for 287 yards, has thrown 23 touchdown passes this season--including 17 in his last 4 games.

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“When you play sloppy like I did today, it doesn’t really mean too much,” Walsh said.

Miami went 70 yards on its 1st possession, scoring on Walsh’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Conley with 12:50 left in the 1st quarter.

The Hurricanes committed 17 penalties for 118 yards, and in several instances helped keep Pirate drives alive.

Carlos Huerta kicked a 32-yard field goal late in the 1st period to extend the lead to 10-0.

When the Pirates failed to convert a fake punt, Walsh moved the Hurricanes 66 yards for a touchdown that gave Miami a 17-0 lead. He capped the drive with a 19-yard scoring pass to Randy Bethel with 16 seconds left before halftime.

Junior Robinson intercepted 2 passes thrown by Walsh. The 2nd, which he returned 58 yards, led to quarterback Travis Hunter’s 2-yard run with 1:26 left in the 3rd quarter. Robb Imperato added the conversion to narrow the deficit to 17-7.

The Pirates (1-8) lost their 8th straight game, the last 4 losses coming against Top 20 teams.

“It was our best effort of the year, defensively, considering the type of offense Miami has,” East Carolina Coach Art Baker said. “We had Miami confused for most of the game.”

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