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Football Brawl

I’m sure we all heard this story already, but nevertheless….

A wild brawl during the Florida International-Miami game Saturday night included players swinging helmets and even crutches as weapons, according to a Local 6 News report.

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In all, 13 players were ejected — eight from FIU, five from Miami, and each will likely face a minimum of one-game suspensions. Officials from both conferences, the Atlantic Coast and Sun Belt, are expected to review the game tape to determine if additional sanctions are necessary.

“It was something that neither of us wanted,” Miami coach Larry Coker said.

Kyle Wright had three touchdown passes for the Hurricanes (4-2), while Lance Leggett had two TD catches — one from Wright, the other from Kirby Freeman.

It was the first meeting between the programs, whose campuses are 9 miles apart and have rosters almost entirely filled with players from Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the two largest in South Florida. Tensions were high throughout the night, with several occurrences of heated words being exchanged after plays ended.

But those verbal jousts were nothing compared with what happened with 9:00 remaining in the third.

“It was a great game,” FIU quarterback Josh Padrick said, “until 9 minutes left in the third quarter.”

James Bryant caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wright, then drew a 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. After making the catch, he appeared to point at the FIU (0-7) bench, then took a theatrical bow toward the stands.

“It’s not our fault,” said Miami’s Kenny Phillips, who had an interception. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t us.”

Moments later, Jon Peattie kicked the extra point for a 14-0 lead and the melee began; replays showed an FIU player crashing into Miami holder Matt Perrelli as the first of many blows. Pushing quickly turned into punches, both sidelines emptied and several fights broke out.

“I have no idea how it happened,” FIU coach Don Strock said.

The brawl lasted about five minutes, and it took officials several more minutes to sort out the penalties. More than two dozen uniformed police officers came onto the field, trying to end the fights, and at least one incident of fan fighting broke out in the Orange Bowl stands.

“Shocked, anger, both, all the emotions,” Coker said when asked about watching the melee. “College football doesn’t need it, FIU doesn’t need it and certainly we don’t need it.”

Police officers, including some wearing helmets, surrounded the field for the remainder of the game.

Florida International’s ejected players were wide receiver Chandler Williams, defensive backs Lionell Singleton, Chris Smith and Marshall McDuffie Jr., fullback John Ellis, linebacker Mannie Wellington, tight end Samuel Smith and defensive end Jarvis Penerton.

“Whatever penalty is handed down, especially from us, we’re going to make it the most severe,” Strock said. “We don’t condone that. It’s embarrassing.”

The ejected Miami players were offensive linemen Derrick Morse and Chris Barney, running back Charlie Jones, and cornerbacks Carlos Armour and Bruce Johnson.

“It’s something they started,” Wright said. “And our guys finished it. … They’re going home with a 35-0 loss and they’re 0-7.”

Police did not immediately announce if any fans were arrested. A holding area was set up at the Orange Bowl to detain anyone ejected and Miami police had between 80 and 100 officers at the game, officials said.

Shortly after the game, new FIU athletic director Pete Garcia — who left his associate AD post at Miami this past week to join the Golden Panthers — issued an apology on behalf of the university and its president, Mitch Madique.

Garcia said he’ll evaluate what happened before deciding whether to continue the rivalry.

“They were gracious enough to grant us these games,” Garcia said. “They didn’t have to and this is how we repay them. I don’t care whose fault it is. At FIU we don’t condone this kind of behavior.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 16th, 2006 at 12:42 pm and is filed under All, Interesting.

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