A slow start, a poor finish, and some more missed opportunities cost the Hurricanes against North Carolina, in an 18-14 loss at Sun Life Stadium.
After Miami's opening drive was stunted by a holding penalty, UNC marched right down the field, in a manner 'Canes fans are becoming all too familiar with. Giovanni Bernard capped the 7 play drive with a 10 yard scamper and a 7-0 lead. UM moved the ball well on their second drive but a tipped ball deep in Tar Heels' territory resulted in an INT by LB Shakeel Rashad. From there Carolina marched down the field yet again but this time there was a different result. LB Eddie Johnson made a huge pick at the goal line to keep the 'Canes close. Miami again moved the ball but this time a failed pass on 4th and 3 inside the UNC 30 ended the drive. After Casey Barth missed a FG, UM capitalized on another break when a roughing the kicker (sound familiar) kept their drive alive. Some good tough runs by Duke Johnson and Mike James set up a one yard plunge by James to even up the score. The lead was short lived as Giovanni Bernard made a clutch diving catch on 4th and 5 on UNC's next drive, and one play later zigged and zagged through some awful tackling for a 17 yard TD run. To add insult to injury UNC went for 2 and converted on a pass to Eric Ebron for a 15-7 lead. (The ESPNU color commentator Dan Hawkins openly exclaimed out "YES", after the conversation for those watching at home). A poorly thrown ball by Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett was picked off easily by Tre Boston on Miami's next possession, but a few more UNC penalties kept them from scoring again. Miami's defense allowed over 300 yards of total offense in the 1st half.
Overall UNC committed 10 1st half penalties yet still led 15-7.
The teams traded 3 and outs to start the 2nd half. Miami's defense played with much greater intensity in the 3rd quarter. On the Hurricanes second possession of the half they moved the ball nicely, and converted on a 5 yard run by Morris on a QB draw, to cut the lead to one 15-14. Miami initially went for 2, but an inexplicable delay of the game on the offense where UM tried to snap the ball quick, forced Al Golden to kick the PAT instead (a huge play in retrospect). UNC was able to extend the lead to 4 on a 48 yard FG by Barth on its' next drive. A PI flag that wiped another INT by Boston provided a huge break for Miami. When the 'Canes failed to convert, a beautiful punt by Dalton Botts was downed at the one yard line by Vaughn Telemaque. Good thing for Miami. UNC moved the ball effortlessly down the field inside the 'Canes 30 before another Barth miss. Miami was looking to respond, but Morris rolled an ankle. Ryan Williams came into the game but failed to convert a 4th and 5 with just under 6 minutes left to give UNC the ball back. Miami held on on defense and got the ball back with under 2 minutes on their own 17. Williams used short passes to get them down to the UNC 30, but could get them further. Miami coughed it up on 4th down and that was that. Ryan Williams gave it his best, but no doubt Miami fans would love to have seen what Morris might have done with the game on the line.
Miami returns to action next weekend when the hated Seminoles come to Sun Life in a prime time battle.
UNC worked from the hurry up on offense.
Miami had 4 first half drops.
For the first time all season, the 'Canes struggled in pass protection, particularly on blitzes.
Giovanni Bernard finished the game with 176 yards on 27 carries and 2 scores.
Mike James led Miami with 96 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
Freshman (not named Duke Johnson) Notes:
Earl Moore continued to see action at DT.
Raphael Kirby continued to work at ILB.
Tracy Howard contributed with a nice hit in run support in the 3rd quarter.
Denzel Perryman was shaken up in the 2nd quarter. He returned shortly after.
Stephen Morris appeared to sprain his ankle in the 4th quarter, he did not return.