Moss to the rescue
Freshman RB helps 'Canes scrape by 'Cuse, end losing streak
Posted: Saturday November 15, 2003 5:09PM; Updated: Saturday November 15, 2003 5:10PM
MIAMI, Fla. (AP) -- Quarterback Brock Berlin might have some company on Miami's bench.
Freshman Tyrone Moss ran 16 times for 91 yards in the second half, and the 14th-ranked Hurricanes rebounded from their first two-game losing streak in more than four years to beat Syracuse 17-10 on Saturday.
Moss gave the offense a spark after it scored just one touchdown in losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee.
Now he might keep Jarrett Payton on the sideline.
"Tyrone's going to get a lot of carries," coach Larry Coker said.
The Hurricanes (8-2, 4-1 Big East) altered their offensive philosophy against the Orangemen -- taking a page from the teams that beat them.
They ran the ball 49 times, hoping to eliminate turnovers while relying on the defense -- which has played well the last eight games.
"You've got to win the surest way," Coker said. "We lost the surest way the last two weeks."
Miami significantly outgained the Hokies and Volunteers, but lost both games because of a combined eight turnovers and 26 penalties.
Coker made several changes this week. He benched Berlin, tight end Kellen Winslow and center Joel Rodriguez. He also vowed to get Moss more playing time.
It worked, barely.
Miami trailed 10-7 in the fourth quarter before scoring 10 straight points to stay in the hunt for the conference title and a berth in a Bowl Championship Series game. If the Hurricanes beat Rutgers and No. 16 Pittsburgh, they will win the conference title and earn a BCS berth, probably in the Orange Bowl.
"You'd be surprised how much one win can change our outlook," safety Maurice Sikes said. "Getting this win gives us a whole different attitude."
After Kellen Pruitt partially blocked a punt, Syracuse (5-4, 2-3) got the ball back on the Miami 44 with 2:58 to play. But Miami's defense -- which played well in the two losses -- stopped the Orangemen on fourth-and-8 from the 20.
Sikes knocked down R.J. Anderson's pass to Johnnie Morant in the left corner of the end zone with 52 seconds remaining.
Derrick Crudup ran out the clock from there.
Crudup, starting in place of Berlin, was mediocre in his first career start. He was 5-of-13 for 80 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble. He also ran 14 times for 29 yards.
"I think I can do much better than I did today," Crudup said. "But we got the win. That's all that matters."
Coker benched Berlin after the junior quarterback threw 17 interceptions and fumbled three times in the first nine games.
Berlin played one series Saturday, receiving a spattering of boos when he entered the game early in the second quarter. Berlin misfired on his only pass, was sacked once and never returned.
Crudup probably will keep the starting job next week against Rutgers.
His best throw came in the first quarter, when he faked left and hit Ryan Moore down the right sideline for a 45-yard score and a 7-3 lead.
"He did some good things," Coker said. "He was a little rusty with some things, but I was really pleased with the way he competed."
After falling behind 10-7 at halftime, Miami turned to Moss. His biggest runs came on Miami's final scoring drive.
Moss used a great move to break a 26-yard run. He then ran over Anthony Smith and carried Rich Scanlon into the end zone for a 9-yard score.
"They stopped throwing the ball around," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "They came right at us. I thought one of the biggest factors was the yardage Moss made. He made yards after the initial contact.
"He's a good back. The problem was we didn't even know him. They have so many great backs we didn't even know him."
Syracuse scored all its points off Crudup's two turnovers in the first half. Walter Reyes led the Orangemen with 89 yards on 24 carries.
After Miami's third turnover -- a fumble by Winslow on his only catch -- Miami stopped throwing the ball and relied on its defense.
"We don't have to score 50 points with our defense to win," left tackle Eric Winston said. "We just have to control the ball and play field position. No one's going to score on our defense. We just have to hold onto the ball and keep pounding it. You saw a clear example of what happens when we do that."