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Archive for Monday, January 1, 2007

Coker wins Miami finale

January 1, 2007

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— On a cold night, Larry Coker got the warmest possible sendoff from his Miami Hurricanes.

Kirby Freeman threw for 272 yards and two long touchdowns, ran for another score and the Hurricanes' defense came through in the final moments to help Miami beat Nevada, 21-20, in the MPC Computers Bowl on Sunday night, Coker's final game at Miami.

Nevada had a first down at the Miami 36 in the final minute, but a diving interception by the Hurricanes' Chavez Grant with 18 seconds left sealed the win and got Coker the perfect sendoff that his players wanted.

"I still love these players," Coker said. "And I'm very happy for the win."

Coker was fired Nov. 24 but agreed to stay for the bowl game - largely, he said, because the players wanted him there. He finished his six years with a 60-15 record and one national title, and by the time the team charter lands Monday in South Florida, defensive coordinator Randy Shannon will have officially taken over as Coker's replacement.

Still, while battling temperatures in the upper 20s and wind that made it feel 10 degrees colder - Freeman shouted "I'm freezing" on the sideline at one point - the Hurricanes found a way to send Coker out a winner.

"Larry Coker and Randy Shannon are both gentlemen," Miami athletic director Paul Dee said. "This wouldn't have worked for us unless we were dealing with two fine people."

Freeman threw a 78-yard touchdown pass to Sam Shields with 5:59 left in the third quarter to break what was a 14-14 tie and put the Hurricanes (7-6) ahead for good.

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