The Miami Hurricanes just find ways to keep winning close games, this week securing a tight 27-19 win over a game Syracuse Orange team who was looking to pull their second major upset in as many weeks.
In the end, Miami made just enough plays in all 3 phases of the game to pull out the win, but it wasn’t easy. Syracuse made life tough for the Canes throughout the game, and we closer than they should have been for most of the day.
In the first half, Miami dominated the game from the very beginning. The Canes stopped Syracuse quickly on their first possession, and marched down the field on the first offensive series. After a nice looking drive, however, Miami had to settle for just 3 points when a would-be TD pass to Ahmmon Richards was dropped. (To be fair, it was a Calvin Johnson/Dez Bryant “didn’t complete the process of the catch” drop, but Richards needs to make that play).
Miami kept stopping and frustrating Syracuse, and the turnover chain was a big part of things. In the first half, Miami had 4 interceptions and stifled Syracuse’s explosive spread offense like no other team has this season.
But, there was frustration on the Miami side of things as well. Even though the defense was not allowing Syracuse to get anything going, Miami’s offense kept finding ways to not score TDs. After only scoring 1 TD, a 10 yard pass from Malik Rosier to Christopher Herndon IV (which should have been 3 or 4, if not for drops), Miami had a 13-0 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.
Syracuse finally got some offense going. Aided by a 3rd and 25 conversion and several other nice plays, Syracuse cashed in a 17 play drive for a field goal, drawing the Orange closer at 13-3.
The teams would trade possessions late in the second quarter, but neither team would add points and the score remained 13-3 at halftime.
To start the second half, Miami cam out flat offensively. Miami quickly punted to Syracuse, and the Orange began to get things going on offense. After a 12 play drive stalled at the Miami 23, Syracuse added a 30 yards FG to draw within a touchdown at 13-6.
After trading punts, Miami finally broke through with another touchdown when Malik Rosier hit freshman speedster Jeff Thomas up the seam for a 48 yard touchdown. It was a beautiful route (Thomas avoided the bump and run coverage to get wide open) and a gorgeous throw by Rosier to find the open receiver. With the extra point, Miami’s lead swelled to 20-6.
That 2 score lead would be short-lived, however. Syracuse expeditiously marched down the field, and finished the drive with 3 inverted veer option runs, the last of which went for a 15 yard Moe Neal touchdown. And, just that fast, it was back to a 7 point game at 20-13.
Miami could find little footing on the next drive and punted the ball back to Syracuse. This would be the trend throughout most of the second half.
While Miami was struggling, Syracuse was surging. Buoyed by stops on defense, including a stop on 4th and 3 midway through the 4th quarter, the Orange mounted a slow, but steady comeback. Led by 2 FGs by Cole Murphy, Syracuse chipped away at Miami’s lead, making the score 20-19 with the home team barely in front.
Miami came out in the next drive and had a strong showing. In only 8 plays, the Canes marched 85 yards to the endzone, capped by a 33 yard Travis Homer rush for the score. That TD was huge and pushed Miami’s lead to 27-19 with just under 3 minutes left.
Miami’s defense was tasked with stopping Syracuse’s offense one final time, and they did just that. After giving up a 22 yard pass on the first play of the final drive, Miami’s defense stood tall. They sacked QB Eric Dungey once, held him to a short gain on another play, and forced an incomplete pass on 4th down to get the final turnover on downs and secure the win.
That incompletion on 4th down ended a tough day for Dungey and the Syracuse offense. The junior QB went 13-41 passing for 137 yards and 4 interceptions. He added 20 carries for 100 yards rushing, but that wasn’t enough to put points on the board and secure the win for the Orange.
Miami took over the ball near midfield and assumed the Victory Formation. After 3 kneel downs by Miami QB Malik Rosier, the game was over, and Miami moved to 6-0 (4-0 in the ACC).
For their parts, Malik Rosier and Travis Homer led Miami with tough and timely playmaking to earn the win. Rosier was 26-43 passing (a career high in attempts) for 344 yards and 2 TDs. Homer ran 20 times for 95 yards and the game-clinching touchdown in the 4th quarter. Both players made plays, and that’s what you need to win games.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was effective. Miami once again found a way to win, and in doing so remain one of the only undefeated teams in the country.
The Cardiac Canes struck again, but if that’s what has to happen for this team to keep winning, then we’ll just have to take it.
On to Chapel Hill.