MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Mark Walton saved Miami against Florida Atlantic last year.
He was even better in the rematch.
Walton rushed for career highs of 155 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 25 Miami shook off a slow start to beat Florida Atlantic 38-10 on Saturday night.
He ran for three touchdowns against FAU a year ago, and this time became the sixth Miami back in program history to rush for four in a game.
“I’m not a stats guy,” Walton said. “It’s great for me. Great for me to be the sixth or whatever. I’m not big on stats. I just go out there and play and my ability showed tonight.”
Walton scored on runs of 7, 3, 16 and 30 yards. He was suspended for much of the offseason after a drunken-driving arrest, a charge that was dropped, and said he’s had a chip on his shoulder since returning.
“He just plays with a lot of passion and heart,” said Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 191 yards for the Hurricanes and was picked off twice. “He shows up every day and gets after it.”
Miami (2-0) set a school record with 108 points in the season’s first two games, breaking the previous mark of 104 set in 1998 and matched in 2002.
“I just want to score enough to win, truthfully,” said Miami coach Mark Richt, who is the 10th coach to win his first two games on the Hurricane sideline. “I like when there’s not a whole lot of drama.”
Greg Howell rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown for FAU (1-1). Jason Driskel completed 18 of 36 passes for 167 yards for the Owls, who punted on their first seven possessions. Kalib Woods caught nine balls for 121 yards.
“We came here to win. We didn’t accomplish the mission we came here to accomplish,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge said. “The good news is these are all very fixable things for a very young football team — a very young, talented football team.”
Joe Yearby ran for 121 yards and a score for the Hurricanes. Miami outgained FAU 470-214, and forced nine punts for the second consecutive game.
“I thought our defense played spectacular,” Richt said. “Very obvious how great they played. They would not let it get interesting at all.”
Florida Atlantic: The Owls had chances early, getting into Miami territory five times in the first half but only coming away with three points. Driskel was poised against Miami’s rush, but his offensive line failed him — and Howell, who managed only 16 yards on nine first-half carries. The FAU defensive front caused Miami’s experienced offensive line plenty of problems, a good sign for the Owls.
Miami: The Hurricanes regressed in the first half, plagued again by the mistakes that doomed them in past seasons. There were drops, a missed field goal for the second straight week and silly penalties — roughing the punter most egregious among them. Kaaya threw multiple interceptions for the first time since Game 6 of his freshman season, though he got clobbered on one. But Miami found what worked in the second half.
Miami might not be a lock to stay in the AP Top 25. Florida’s big win over Kentucky could get the Gators back in the ranking, though No. 22 Oklahoma State’s “loss” — the Cowboys fell to Central Michigan on the last play of the game, though officials later said the winning score should not have counted — may be enough to keep the Hurricanes ranked.
FAU: The Owls visit Kansas State next Saturday. It’s the only time FAU leaves Florida in the first six weeks of this season.
Miami: A dangerous game awaits at Appalachian State next Saturday. The Mountaineers are 18-3 in their last 21 games, and the biggest crowd in the history of Kidd Brewer Stadium is expected.