BOONE, N.C. — When Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya threw an interception on a goal line that gave briefly gave Appalachian State some life in the third quarter, he didn’t panic — nor did his teammates.
“In years past we would close in and fold a little bit and maybe guys would point fingers and go back and forth,” Kaaya said.
Instead, Kaaya led the 25th-ranked Hurricanes on back-to-back touchdown drives as Miami soundly defeated Appalachian State 45-10 in front of a record crowd of 34,658 at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Kaaya threw for 368 yards and three scores, Mark Walton ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns as Miami improved to 3-0.
Kaaya, who is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the 2017 NFL draft, took a shot to his leg on the interception and hobbled off. But he returned for the next series and continued to play.
He said he will be fine for Miami’s next game in two weeks.
“There is a lot of weight on his shoulders, but he handles it well,” Miami coach Mark Richt said.
Miami came in having scored a school-record 108 points in its first two games in wins over Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic. The Hurricanes picked up where they left off, scoring on their first four possessions to build a 24-0 lead.
Walton set the tone, busting through the middle of the line on Miami’s first play from scrimmage and racing 80 yards untouched to the end zone.
“I saw him break a tackle and I almost immediately put my hands up like, ‘Touchdown,'” Kaaya said. “The red sea just parted and he just hit it.”
Kaaya added first quarter TD passes to David Njoku and Stacy Coley.
Coley finished with five catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns and Ahmmon Richards had 142 yards receiving on four catches.
“We have been tackling really well, but we didn’t tackle well today,” Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said. “They are big backs, but we have to bring them down.”
MIAMI: The Hurricanes did what Tennessee couldn’t do in dominating Appalachian State. Some questioned why Miami scheduled a road game against a team notorious for pulling big upsets (ask Michigan) and scaring the life out of others (ask Tennessee). Richt said Appalachian State’s close loss to Tennessee got his team’s attention.
“Everybody knew that it was not a fluke,” Richt said. “It was physical play. It got our attention. I did not have to say something magical to get them fired up.”
APPALACHIAN STATE: The Mountaineers came in brimming with confidence after taking then-No. 9 Tennessee to overtime in the season opener and winning 18 of its last 21 games. But they simply couldn’t compete with Miami’s athletic ability in a humbling loss.
“There’s a reason why they call them ‘Power 5’ – Tennessee is really good, Miami is really good,” Satterfield said. “There is not one player on our team that they wanted.”
MIAMI: It is possible Miami could make a small jump in the poll with a third straight impressive win. Remember, the Hurricanes beat a good team — one that that lost 20-13 to the Vols in overtime.
MIAMI: Walton came in with back-to-back 100-yard games and needed only three carries to go over that mark against the Mountaineers. He now has seven TDs rushing on the season.
APPALACHIAN STATE: QB Taylor Lamb was held to 115 yards passing and completed just 10 of 21 passes with one touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times.
Marcus Cox, the Mountaineers’ leading rusher, appeared to injure himself at the end of a 55-yard touchdown run that was called back because of a holding penalty in the first half. Cox had seven carries for 30 yards.
MIAMI: The Hurricanes are off next weekend before opening ACC play Oct. 1 at Georgia Tech. Miami has won six of its last seven games against the Yellow Jackets.
APPALACHIAN STATE: The Mountaineers (1-2) visit Akron next Saturday, their final tuneup before beginning play in the Sun Belt Conference.
AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org .