9-21-07 - The last Thursday night game at the venerable Orange Bowl was something for the Miami Hurricanes to cherish.
And it was a win they desperately needed.
Kyle Wright threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Graig Cooper scored twice and the Hurricanes stymied No. 20 Texas A&M's high-powered offense in a 34-17 victory -- just the second in their last nine games against ranked opponents.
"It was a Thursday night game, prime time, so the nation got to come out and see what we really have as a University of Miami football team," Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon said.
The Aggies (3-1) entered averaging 46.3 points, scoring at least 38 in every game. Those numbers plummeted against the Hurricanes (3-1), who held a 402-240 edge in yards and said a spotlight game like this represented the perfect chance to make a statement.
It came through loud and clear.
"We just got beat, got beat by a better team," Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione said.
Wright completed 21 of 26 passes, finding Cooper with one scoring throw and Chris Zellner with another late in the third quarter to make it 31-0.
Sam Shields had six catches for 117 yards for Miami, which had three scoring drives take a combined 1 minute, 9 seconds.
"We had to trust each other, come out, play hard," Shields said. "And win."
The Hurricanes, who are 10-0 on Thursday nights at home since 1986, are leaving the Orange Bowl for Dolphin Stadium next season.
"I think this is something that's going to get us on a roll," Wright said. "It kind of got our confidence back up."
Stephen McGee had a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left for Texas A&M, and backup quarterback Jerrod Johnson threw a 33-yard scoring pass to tight end Martellus Bennett with 5 seconds left.
Texas A&M's three leading rushers -- McGee, Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane -- came into the game averaging a combined 235 yards, a big reason why the Aggies' were ranked fifth nationally in rushing offense with nearly 300 yards per outing.
That trio rushed for 21 yards in the first half and 69 for the game. Lane had no carries in the first half, and the Aggies didn't get on the board until Matt Szymanski's 32-yard field goal with 11:40 left.
"We just never got comfortable out there until real late," McGee said. "And of course, by then it was just too little."
The Miami mood was so joyous that university president Donna Shalala was posing for photos with smiling guests on the sideline as the clock ticked down.
"It was a big game for them," Aggies defensive back Devin Gregg said. "They realized that it's Thursday night -- everybody's watching. So they came out there a lot more aggressive."
The Hurricanes held the Aggies to 38 yards in the first half, taking a 24-0 lead. Miami scored 10 points off three Texas A&M turnovers in the final 3:40 before halftime.
Miami opened with an 18-play, 80-yard drive, with Wright going 5-for-5 on third downs, and took a 7-0 lead when Cooper took a direct snap and rumbled 7 yards for a score.
The direct snap, a new Miami wrinkle for this game, also had a role in the Hurricanes' second score.
Miami got inside the Texas A&M 10 on a fortunate bounce; Wright's pass hit off Darnell Jenkins' hands, caromed off Aggies' linebacker Mark Dodge, and landed on Jenkins -- who made the catch on the ground.
It was that kind of night for Miami.
"This is the best feeling in the world," Cooper said.
Wright was spread right like a wide receiver on third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 plays inside the Aggies' 5. Javarris James took both snaps, eventually got the first down, then scored from 1 yard out for a 14-0 lead.
Goodson fumbled the ball away later in the half, and the Hurricanes needed one play to go up 21-0. Wright hit Cooper with a screen pass and the freshman did the rest, barreling in from 12 yards out with 33 seconds left.
It got worse for Texas A&M. After a short kickoff, Cody Wallace -- an offensive lineman -- fumbled the ensuing return, the Hurricanes recovered again and Francesco Zampogna hit a 45-yarder as time expired in the half.
They ran off the field celebrating, and never had a reason to stop in the second half, either.
"Knowing this is the last year in the Orange Bowl, we want to make history here," defensive end Calais Campbell said.