Miami returned the Orange Bowl grounds tonight. A place players deemed as “sacred” and “hollowed” throughout the week by players and coaches. But that was all it was. It was talk. FIU came out and proved that this game meant something to its program and Miami did the completely opposite — treated this game as a gimme.
It resulted in a 30-24 loss for Miami in what I believe is the single worst loss in program history. They lost to a program that doesn't recruit from the same group of athletes as they do.
The Panthers were a 5-5 team coming off a 30-point loss to FAU and Miami was riding a three-game winning streak.
There is simply no excuse in the book to justify this loss. There must be consequences. Somebody needs to be made responsible for what happened from 7-11 p.m. at Marlins Park because it was the poorest performance that this team could have put together.
If you dare, here’s how it happened:
Miami elected to defer after they won the toss in this cross-town matchup and stopped the FIU offense immediately.
But Jarren Williams quickly threw his fourth interception of the year to FIU’s Stanley Oliver-Thomas, giving FIU the ball back deep in Miami territory after a 23-yard return.
The Hurricanes defense yet again held it down, forcing FIU kicker Jose Borregales, brother of 2021 Miami commit Andres Borregalses, to hit a 29-yard field goal to give FIU an early 3-0 lead.
Deejay Dallas got the Hurricanes following drive going with a 14-yard run, but that was about it for the Hurricanes. Another Williams pass was nearly knocked down and a short completion to junior wide receiver Mike Harley wasn't enough to convert a first down.
FIU would take over on their own 25 after Lou Hedley’s first punt of the game traveled deep into the end zone.
A Tony Gaiter IV 19-yard reception on on 3rd and 7 allowed FIU to convert and kept the sticks moving for the Panthers, as did a 15-yard catch by FIU’s leading receiver Shemar Thornton later on in the drive.
The two big third down conversions led to a 29-yard catch on a screen by Thornton which went for a touchdown giving the Panthers and early 10-0 lead with 3:59 left in the first.
On the ensuing drive, Williams was sacked by Damon Moore, but a clear face masking penalty gave the Hurricanes a first down. Sophomore running back got the offense going with a 15-yard catch and an 8-yard run, which was assisted by an unsportsmanlike penalty against FIU. Miami got the ball at the FIU 15, but Miami couldn't punch it in and settled for a field goal until an FIU illegal substitution penalty put the Hurricanes offense on the 1-yard line.
After one of the worst flops of all-time by FIU’s Kevin Oliver, the Panthers got an opportunity to stop and think about Miami’s next play. Middle linebacker Sage Lewis wound up up stuffing a designed run by Williams which turned the ball over on downs.
James Morgan continued his hot start with a 15-yard completion to Thornton to keep the sticks moving, bringing the Panthers out from very deep in their own territory.
And, despite Miami pinning the Panthers in a 3rd and 19 situation, FIU converted their fourth third down of the game with a 24-yard run straight up the middle by Napoleon Maxwell.
But, thankfully, that was all the heat the Miami defense would take. They forced another 3rd and long and FIU, this time, FIU wasn't able to convert. It really felt like the Canes were sleep walking through the first half of this game.
Halfway through the second quarter, FIU had nearly doubled Miami’s total yardage, ran ten more plays than the Hurricanes and converted four third downs despite holding the ball for only 45 more seconds.
Will Mallory got the Hurricanes next drive going with a 29-yard reception. Williams followed with a 25-yard missile to Irvin II, which chopped the field in half for the Hurricanes.
And as Mike Harley broke on his route on 2nd down, an FIU defender held onto him, giving Miami a first down.
But, still, Miami wound up facing yet another 4th and 1 and FIU flopped AGAIN. How many times FIU is going to fake a cramp on 4th down is still yet to be seen, but this is absolutely humiliating on their end. So bush league.
Regardless, the Panthers made yet another stop and forced the Hurricanes to turnover the ball on downs. You can only control so much and allowing FIU to pull that off successfully not once, but TWICE is unacceptable.
As the half came to a close, FIU kicker Jose Borregales nailed a 50-yard field goal to give FIU a 13-0 lead heading into halftime.Let’s be reminded that FIU is the same team that gave up 50 points to Middle Tennessee, 43 to Louisiana Tech and 42 to Tulane.
It was an inexcusable half of football for the Hurricanes. There simply isn't any other way of putting it.
And it didn't end there. Jarren Williams’ first pass of the second half bounced up the air after being intended for sophomore Dee Wiggins and was intercepting by Sage Lewis.
Thankfully, the Hurricanes defense was able to force a 4th and 6 that turned into a 4th and 11 after a delay of game penalty. Miami would take over on their own 9-yard line.
A bad night got worse for Miami. While fighting for extra yardage, Miami running back Deejay Dallas appeared to dislocate his elbow. The Hurricanes wound up punting for the third time on the night.
The defense, on the other hand, appeared to have stepped up. They forced FIU to a three and out giving Miami the ball back on their own 36. At this point of the game, it felt like the time to really turn the corner for the offense.
It wasn't. Jarren Williams was intercepted for the third time — this time by linebacker Jamal Gates. The slant wasn't there all night, especially not up to this point. Yet, Williams and/or Enos insisted to keep throwing it.
The Panthers nearly scored on a deep pass from Morgan to Thornton, but the receiver wasn’t able to bring it in and forced a long field goal attempt.
Borregales lined up for the 53-yarder and nailed it to give FIU a 16-0 lead with 9:02 left in the third.
When they got the ball back, Miami decided to do what they should have been doing from the jump — run the ball down their throats.
And with Dallas out, Cam’Ron Harris and Robert Burns were the work horses behind the drive with runs of 7, 9, 19 and 21-yards on the Hurricanes. However, it wouldn't be enough for the Hurricanes. A 22-yard field goal by Camden Price put Miami on the board for the first time to cut the Panthers lead to 13 with 1:52 left in the third.
The defense was able to make a massive stop once again to get the struggling Hurricanes offense the ball back late in the third quarter. They began to do their part, now it’s time for Williams and the offense to do theirs.
And the sophomore Harris got it going with a 17-yard run to open up the drive, but that would be all. Williams had a pass batted down and took a sack forcing Miami to punt.
Two unsportsmanlike penalties on Nesta Silvera and Romeo Finley pushed the ball 30-yards down the field for FIU and it felt like that was Miami’s breaking point. They completed a 17-yard pass to Gaiter IV, Anthony Jones had a few big runs and Morgan found Gaiter IV wide open in the end zone for a touchdown.
FIU took a 20-point lead with 11:04 left in the 4th quarter.
Miami got the ball back and drove down the field and scored an a 14-yard rush by Harris to shrink the lead to 13. It was simply too little too late for the Hurricanes.
Or was it? Miami stopped FIU, got the ball back, converted a 4th down to Jeff Thomas and then found Mark Pope over the top for a 35-yard touchdown to shrink the FIU lead to 6 with 3:10 left in the fourth.
It was. FIU recovered the onside kick and Anthony Jones took the second play of the series 37-yards to the house to give FIU a 30-17 lead with 2:17 left.
Miami put together a nine-play 64-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dee Wiggins, but that was it.
That’s the ball game. That’s all I got for you tonight.