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Earnest Graham rushed for a game-best 136 yards for the Gators

Wednesday January 3, 2001U-M wins Sugar Bowl 37-20 over the Gators

New Orleans, LA

Earnest Graham rushed for a game-best 136 yards for the Gators

The University of Miami's National Championship hopes are still alive. The second ranked Hurricanes defeated the seventh ranked Florida Gators 37- 20 in the Sugar Bowl Tuesday night. It was the first meeting since 1987 for the two instate schools.

The Gators scored the first points of the game when Rex Grossman hit tightend Kirk Wells with a 23-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. But a pair of Todd Sievers field goals and a Ken Dorsey touchdown pass to tightend Jeremy Shockey gave U-M a 13-10 halftime lead.

The Gators regained the lead early in the third quarter after Dorsey was intercepted by defensive back Keiwan Ratliff. Earnest Graham rambled 36 yards for a touchdown to give the Gators a 17-13 lead. Graham finished with a game-high 136 yards. "Earnest Graham was probably the lone bright spot of the whole game," said Gator coach Steve Spurrier in his postgame interview. "Graham ran hard. I should have given it to him every play I guess, looking back."

Dorsey brought the Hurricanes back after Graham's score, going 80 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Dorsey hit fullback D.J. Williams with a 19- yard scoring pass. The play was set up by a roughing the quarterback penalty on Gator defensive tackle Gerard Warren, which gave the Hurricanes an automatic first down.

"We had alot of careless plays out there," said Spurrier. "They're a good team. Give them credit. They're better than us. To beat a good team, we can't have the penalties we had. We can't pull the quarterback down when it had been third and 20 with the lead."

Miami held a 27-17 advantage when defensive back Phillip Buchanon picked off a Rex Grossman pass. That set up Najeh Davenport's three-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach, 37-20.

Miami finishes the year 11-1. They can claim a share of the national title if Florida State beats Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game Wednesday night in Miami. The SEC champion Gators end the season at 10-3.

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