- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

MIAMI Now that's a Big Mac attack.
Miami tailback Willis McGahee will be traveling to the Fiesta Bowl by way of New York.
Rewriting Miami's record book and more than a few Heisman Trophy ballots, the sophomore standout rushed for a career-high 205 yards and a school-record six touchdowns yesterday to carry the top-ranked Hurricanes to a 56-45 victory over No.18 Virginia Tech.
"The O-line did a great job," the understated McGahee said after overshadowing teammate and fellow Heisman hopeful Ken Dorsey on a rainy afternoon at the Orange Bowl. "I'm satisfied with the performance."
Satisfaction is scoring your sixth touchdown on a 31-yard bolt with 11:15 remaining in the third quarter.
Satisfaction is outgaining Virginia Tech's ballyhooed tailback tandem of Lee Suggs (55 yards) and Kevin Jones (1) by nearly 150 yards.
Satisfaction is gaining 42 yards on 11 carries in the fourth quarter after Dorsey, your offensive coordinator, some shoddy special teams play and a heroic effort by Hokies quarterback Bryan Randall have conspired to let your opponent back into the game.
Satisfaction is knowing that unlike Penn State's Heisman candidate Larry Johnson, who averaged 70 yards in the Nittany Lions' three games against ranked opponents, you played your best in the biggest games. McGahee rushed for an average of 163.4 yards against Florida (204), Florida State (95), Tennessee (154), Pittsburgh (159) and Virginia Tech (205).
Satisfaction is knowing that even if you don't win the Heisman next week, you are headed back to the national title game with a team on a 34-game winning streak and are likely to be the first back taken in the next NFL Draft.
"I'm not even thinking about turning pro right now," said McGahee, who now holds the Miami single-season records for rushing yards (1,686) and rushing touchdowns (27). "All I'm thinking about is playing for a national championship."
McGahee and his mates will get the chance to defend their title Jan.3 against unbeaten Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. And if the Miami offense that dazzled 76,108 at the Orange Bowl performs as efficiently in the desert, the Buckeyes (13-0) might want to consider wintering somewhere other than Columbus.
The Hurricanes (12-0) were absolutely unstoppable for the first 40 minutes, scoring touchdowns on seven of their first eight possessions to take a 49-21 lead over the Hokies (9-4) less than five minutes after halftime.
"When we're rolling, I don't think there's anybody who can stop us," said Miami wideout Andre Johnson, who torched the Tech secondary for 193 yards on just six receptions. "When our offense is clicking, it's a thing of joy to behold. We know that the only thing that can stop us is us."
That's exactly what happened with 9:00 remaining in the third quarter and the 'Canes leading 49-21 and poised to consummate the rout from the Tech 1. The 224-pound McGahee literally had been unchallenged running behind Miami's massive offensive line, which features All-American center Brett Romberg and county-sized tackles Vernon "Dade" Carey (6-5, 369) and Carlos "Broward" Joseph (6-6, 334). But for some reason, Miami offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski decided to get cute, calling a halfback throw-back pass from Jarrett Payton to Dorsey.
Payton's toss was decidedly sub-Sweetness, and Tech safety Willie Pile stepped in front of the wobbly throw and raced 96 yards untouched to turn a laugher into a 49-27 game.
Chudzinski claimed Dorsey had been begging him to call the play for two years. And there was some talk that the Miami staff didn't want McGahee to have all the fun while his senior quarterback and Heisman co-candidate watched.
For his part, Miami coach Larry Coker made no excuses for the call. "I think we went brain dead, to be quite honest," he said. "It was a bad call."
Followed by several more, and some poor execution, as Miami forced its passing game on its next two possessions. After the first, a quick Dorsey-driven three-and-out, Virginia Tech's DeAngelo Hall returned a punt to the Miami 18, and the Hokies kicked a field goal to close the gap to 49-30. Then during the second possession, Dorsey tried to force a pass into the flat that was picked off by Ronyell Whitaker, who returned the ball 56 yards to the Hurricanes 9. Tech scored one play later, and suddenly the score was 49-37 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
Enter McGahee. With the Hokies closing and Dorsey struggling, the 'Canes turned to their sophomore stud, as they have all season in the clutch. Miami called his number nine times on an 11-play, 56-yard touchdown drive that opened the fourth quarter and closed the door on Tech.
"When they've got 10 guys in the box and Willis is still able to get 4 or 5 yards a carry, that says something," Dorsey said.
Yeah, it screams "Heisman."
"My vote is for McGahee, and he should not bother to hang around here anymore," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, still exhibiting his sense of humor. "He's a good running back tough, patient and strong. He's something."

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