MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The student section sang “Happy Birthday” to Brad Kaaya before the game, and there were a slew of text messages awaiting the Miami quarterback afterward.
All that was nice, but all he really wanted was what was on the scoreboard.
Kaaya threw for four touchdowns on the day he turned 21, Miami scored a school-record 42 points in the third quarter and the Mark Richt era began with an easy 70-3 win over Florida A&M on Saturday night.
“This is the only birthday present I wanted today, honestly,” Kaaya said. “All the other things are cool and stuff, but this is what the day was about.”
The Hurricanes (1-0) had three backs — Joe Yearby, Mark Walton and Gus Edwards — all top 100 yards, the first time a Miami trio has done that since 1987. Yearby ran for two scores, Walton and Edwards each ran for one, and seven other Hurricanes reached the end zone.
Miami scored touchdowns on 10 of its first 12 possessions.
“We were just ready,” said Miami receiver Braxton Berrios, who returned a punt for a touchdown.
Kaaya’s four TD throws tied a career-best. He completed 12 of 18 passes for 135 yards.
Kenneth Coleman completed nine of 16 passes for 135 yards for the Rattlers (0-1), who lost to Miami for the 10th consecutive time.
“We didn’t come to play,” Coleman said. “We’ve got work to do.”
Miami outgained FAMU 373-22 on the ground, and 523-197 in total yards.
“We had a chance for the first time in 2016 to see our kids compete in game conditions, which is a good thing,” Rattlers coach Alex Wood said.
It was Richt’s first game leading the Hurricanes. His team took a 28-3 lead into halftime, then scored touchdowns on all six of its opportunities in the third — with Edwards going 74 yards for a score as the quarter expired.
“I’ll just say this: I really, really like it here,” said Richt, a 1982 Miami grad. “I like these players. I like this university. I like the vibe of the city. I’m very thankful to be here.”
Florida A&M: The Rattlers got plenty of players involved both rushing and receiving, played two quarterbacks and put together a pair of relatively solid drives in the second quarter. In short, plenty of players got experience.
Miami: The Hurricanes flirted with matching the school-record for points (77 against Savannah State in 2013) and sold more than 60,000 tickets. And the starting linebacker trio of Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney — all true freshmen — got their college careers off to a flying start. “It was a great experience,” Quarterman said. The last trio of Miami backs to top 100 yards in the same game was Leonard Conley, Melvin Bratton and Warren Williams against Cincinnati on Oct. 24, 1987.
Miami’s drought may be over.
The Hurricanes last appeared in the AP Top 25 on Nov. 10, 2013 — 39 polls ago. Since then, 61 different programs have been ranked. If Miami appears in the poll that will be released Tuesday, it’ll be the first time the Hurricanes were ranked so early in a season since 2010.
“That’d be awesome,” Kaaya said. “But at the same time, we can’t just sit on that. … In the grand scheme of things, we have lot bigger fish to fry.”
Florida A&M: At Coastal Carolina, Sept. 10. Coastal Carolina beat FAMU 48-3 in 2014. For whatever this is worth, it’ll be the second straight week the Rattlers visit a school that made the 2016 College World Series — the Chanticleers won the title.
Miami: Host Florida Atlantic, Sept. 10. The Hurricanes are 2-0 all-time against the Owls, though were tested in the first half of last season’s meeting at FAU. Miami has rushed for 6.5 yards per carry in the two games.