Canes pick up first shutout of Golden era

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Hunter Knighton’s first play didn’t officially count, nor did Corn Elder’s first touchdown.

They mattered plenty to Miami.

Brad Kaaya passed for 173 yards and two touchdowns in less than three quarters, Elder took a punt return 72 yards for a score after having another nullified by an unusual call and Miami beat Bethune-Cookman 45-0 in a lightning-delayed game on Saturday night. It was Miami’s first shutout under coach Al Golden; the Hurricanes’ last was a 45-0 win over Florida A&M on Sept. 2, 2010.

But the biggest victory of all might have been Knighton getting on the field. The reserve offensive lineman suffered a life-threatening heatstroke on Feb. 24, 2014, spent 12 days in a coma and lost 55 pounds, and made his long-awaited debut after many surmised he would never get the chance to play for Miami.

[callout2]”I think it’s the final piece to his healing and to our healing,” Carole Knighton, the lineman’s mother, told The Associated Press just after the play while surrounded by friends, family and even some of the medical personnel who worked with her son after the heatstroke. “It is God-given, Hunter-driven and it is a miracle. He was saved for a reason.”[/callout2]

Knighton’s first play came on a field goal try that was washed away by a penalty in the first quarter, as his mother sobbed tears of joy. He started getting regular offensive line snaps in the third quarter, when the Hurricanes were substituting liberally.

Miami won its ninth consecutive home opener, but didn’t escape unscathed and lost two wide receivers in the first quarter. Braxton Berrios left with a knee injury that had the Hurricanes concerned, and Stacy Coley departed with an ankle injury. There was no immediate word on the severity of either issue, and Berrios was taken to a hospital for further examination.

True freshman Mark Walton had 85 yards on 10 carries and scored in his Miami debut. Joe Yearby and Trayone Gray added touchdown runs and Kaaya connected with Standish Dobard and Rashawn Scott for touchdown passes. Scott had 100 receiving yards on six catches.

Bethune-Cookman was held to 79 yards of offense, the fourth time since 1996 that Miami held an opponent under 100 yards. Miami had 379 yards.

Kaaya now has at least one scoring pass in all 14 games of his Miami career. The only Miami quarterback in the last 20 years to have longer streaks of consecutive games with a TD pass is Ken Dorsey, who had runs of 23 and 17 straight games with a scoring toss.

Elder returned two punts for scores in the second quarter. Only one counted.

He had a punt return for a score erased early in the quarter after officials determined another Miami player waved his arms to indicate to the Wildcats there would be no play on the ball and it therefore could not be advanced. The game was then delayed more than an hour by lightning and the second half was shortened to 20 minutes.

Rayshawn Jenkins — who lost his entire 2014 season due to injury — and Artie Burns had interceptions for Miami, which makes the 45-mile trek north and visits Florida Atlantic (0-1) on Friday night.