The Miami Hurricanes entered Saturday’s game against North Carolina State riding the wave of consecutive wins to open November. The Canes were able to extend that to a 3 game winning streak by defeating the Wolfpack 27-13 on Saturday afternoon.
The game started off as a defensive struggle. Through 30 minutes of play, the Canes and the Wolfpack were tied at 3, after each team hit a short field goal.
Both teams, however, had chances to make more of an impact on the score. Miami had several drives into NC State territory ruined by ineffective offense or untimely penalties. Once Miami got past the 35 yard line, the OLine — great a week ago against a bad Virginia team — regressed to their previous level of performance. Kc McDermott and Tyree St. Louis, Miami’s starting tackles, were particularly ineffective. Both missed blocks, and McDermott was flagged 3 times in the first half.
On the flip side, North Carolina State receivers dropped no less than 5 passes in the first half, including a potential touchdown just before the Wolfpack’s field goal late in the 2nd quarter.
Along with the defenses, which each allowed less than 200 yards offense, had 7 combined TFLs and 2 sacks (5 TFLs and 2 sacks coming for NCSU), Miami WR Ahmmon Richards was the star of the first half. The burgeoning freshman star caught 7 passes for 96 yards in the first half, routinely getting open against NC State defenders.
Stymied largely by their own unraveling at key moments in the first half, Miami finally got some momentum going on the final drive of the first half, taking the ball 74 yards to set up another FG attempt. K Michael Badgley, who earlier hit from 31 yards out, missed a 23 yard kick, and the score remained 3-3 at the half.
Both coaches talked about tightening up their performance in the 2nd half, and Miami lived up to that expectation.
Miami came out on the opening drive of the second half and looked like a new team. Kaaya hit Mark Walton for 19 yards on a checkdown pass to open the drive. NC State roughed Kaaya on the play, which moved Miami further down the field. After Kaaya hit Richards again for an 11 yard gain, Mark Walton broke loose on an inside zone play, running 30 yards untouched for the Touchdown. And with it, Miami took a 10-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive, NC State drove the length of the field, and looked to tie the game. But, freshman CB Malek Young intercepted a Ryan Finley pass in the endzone to kill that drive and preserve the lead for Miami.
On the next drive, Miami got rolling again. After a 20 yard Mark Walton run, Ahmmon Richards had a 10 yard catch. This is notable because Richards broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving yardage record on the play. Following that, Brad Kaaya hit Stacy Coley for a 51 yard gain on a slant, where Coley was tripped up at the 2.
Brad Kaaya sticks one in a tight window and Coley snags it in traffic. Beautiful play pic.twitter.com/7lmtKDXl93— Peter Ariz (@PeterAriz) November 19, 2016
2 plays later, Walton cashed it in from a yard out for his 2nd TD, and gave Miami a 17-3 lead.
NC State would try to make a game of it, though. The Wolfpack had a methodical drive down the field inside the Miami 5. After a spectacular tipped ball interception by the combination of Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins was (rightly) overturned — Carter was on the sideline when he touched the ball — NC State RB Matt Dayes scored on a 2 yard run on 4th and goal to close the score to 17-10 in favor of Miami.
NC State forced a Miami punt on the ensuing possession and looked to have all the momentum. That is, until their punt returner Bra’Lon Cherry muffed the punt, which was recovered by Jaquan Johnson to give Miami the ball deep in Wolfpack territory. Miami wsn unable to score a TD on that drive, and had to settle for a 22 yard Michael Badgley FG to extend the lead to 20-10 with just over 12 minutes left in the game.
Even after that, NC State wouldn’t go away. The Wolfpack marched 12 plays and 66 yards down inside Miami’s 10 before settling for a FG. That kick made the score 20-13 with 5:23 left after the NC State drive took up 6:50 of game time.
Miami would put the game away on the next drive. The Canes used the run game nearly exclusively to go 65 yards in 7 plays, capped off by a 24 yard TD run by Mark Walton, his 3rd of the day and 14th of the year.
NC State would be unable to get anything going on their final possession, throwing 4 incompletions. Miami took the ball and knelt it 3 times to run out the clock and earn the win. This was Miami’s first win in Raleigh since 2004, when #3 Miami beat NC State 31-45.
Miami did a great job to shut down NC State on an emotional senior night. And, after some early struggles, Miami got the offense rolling in the 2nd half.
Now 7-4 (4-3 ACC) on the year, Miami looks to close out the regular season with a win against Duke next Saturday afternoon.
Great job, Canes. Keep it going.