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Hurricanes rally, defeat Wake Forest 24-21

The SportsXchange

MIAMI - Al Golden was concerned.

The media, the Miami Hurricanes coach said, was not talking about Saturday's opponent, Wake Forest.

Instead, the chatter was about the NCAA finally concluding its nearly-three-year investigation of the Miami program on Tuesday and its "future schedule," a reference to the Canes' trip to No. 3 Florida State next week.

"I've never worked harder in my life than I have in the past 72 hours (getting the team ready for Wake)," Golden said.

All that hard work paid off - but just barely. Duke Johnson scored on a 1-yard run with 53 seconds left to lead the seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes to a 24-21 win over Wake Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.

Johnson ran a career-high 30 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns. It was his third 100-yard game of the season and the seventh of his career. He had 131 of his yards in the second half, including 85 in the fourth quarter.

The winning drive took 10 plays and went 73 yards in 3:09. There were eight runs on the drive, seven of them by Johnson.

"Duke ran with a purpose and an anger we haven't seen from him," Golden said of Johnson, who had 243 all-purpose yards. "His stiff arm was awesome. How about his conditioning? He gets knocked out of the game last week, and this week he ran with his pads down, second and third effort."

It was Miami's second straight last-minute win after it beat North Carolina with 16 seconds left. In that game, the Canes' offensive line was big again, opening holes on a 13-play, 90-yard drive to win the game that featured 10 runs.

Wake nose guard Nikita Whitlock said he was impressed with Miami's blockers.

"We should have had this one," Whitlock said of the game. "I think their offensive coordinator (James Coley) figured out what we were doing and was able to do some things.

"Their o-line is great. They weren't as strong as I thought. ... But they were strong enough and fast. They were probably the fastest o-line we've played."

On Wake's final possession, a Tanner Price pass went off Jared Crump's hands and was intercepted by Antonio Crawford with 37 seconds left.

Crawford said it was an emotional win because they had to rally - not because of the NCAA investigation being over and the Canes finally eligible for a bowl berth after two years of a self-imposed ban.

"We got over everything (regarding the NCAA) on Tuesday and Wednesday," he said.

Miami (7-0, 3-0 ACC) extended its win streak to nine games, the fifth longest in FBS behind Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon and Baylor.

Wake (4-4, 2-3) entered the game as a 24-point underdog and nearly pulled the upset.

Johnson scored on a 4-yard run around right end with 5:36 left in the fourth quarter to give Miami its first lead of the game, 17-14. That capped nine-play, 51-yard drive, which was helped by a face-mask penalty against Ryan Janvion.

But Wake came back to take a 21-17 lead on a 44-yard pass from Price to redshirt freshman Dominique Gibson of Belle Glade, Fla. That capped a six-play, 75-yard drive that included a fourth-and-5 conversion on a pass to Crump.

Miami's first two second-half drives ended with a missed 40-yard field goal by Matt Goudis and a fourth-and-1 run by Dallas Crawford that was stopped for no gain at the Wake nine.

Miami had just three offensive plays and a punt in the first quarter as Wake Forest dominated the period with a 16-play, 79-yard drive to open the game. The march, which took 8:34 off the clock, was capped by Josh Harris' 12-yard run.

Price was 4-for-4 on third downs on the drive, completing two to Tyree Harris and two to Michael Campanaro.

After Miami's punt, Wake had another long drive -- 10 plays this time -- that resulted in a 47-yard field goal attempt by Chad Hedlund that went wide right.

Miami finally got on the board on Goudis' 34-yard field goal with 9:28 left in the second quarter. That was set up by a 12-play, 53-yard drive before stalling on a Stephen Morris incompletion in which his pass sailed high.

Wake came right back to extend its lead to 14-3 on a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It was set up by a perfectly-thrown pass from Price to Tyree Harris, beating freshman cornerback Artie Burns on a third-and-9 play. The TD pass was a 9-yarder to Campanaro on a play-action fake on fourth-and-1.

With 1:10 left in the first half, Miami pulled to within 14-10 on Morris' 35-yard, perfectly-placed deep strike to Herb Waters. On the previous play, Miami converted a third-and-3 with a spectacular one-handed grab by tight end Clive Walford. That play went for 20 yards.

Campanaro, who had 10 catches for 88 yards, said he was disappointed his team fell short.

"Anytime you play a top-10 team on the road, it's going to be tough," he said. "But I'm proud of the way we fought."

NOTES: Price completed 25 of 45 passes for 302 yards and two scores. He had one interception. ... Tyree Harris had six catches for 95 yards. ... Miami WR Stacy Coley made a sensational 44-yard catch in the fourth quarter. The ball bounced off his hands as he fell to the ground then bounced off him again before he clutched it. "That was a catch for the ages," Golden said. ... Miami's ranking is its highest since 2005. ... Saturday marked the 67th anniversary of Wake's upset over No. 4 Tennessee, the highest-ranked team the Deacons have ever beaten. ... Wake is currently on a seven-game losing streak against ranked teams. ... Next up for Wake is Saturday's game at Syracuse.
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