Well, friends, winning isn’t easy. And, often, it doesn’t look pretty. Both of those statements were true about Miami’s 25-23 nailbiter of a win over the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Saturday night.
Things started well enough for Miami, who stopped App State twice early, including a tipped-ball interception that gave the Canes the ball inside the 10 yardline. Miami found paydirt a few plays later when RB Donald Chaney Jr. plunged in from 1 yard out to make the score 7-0 Miami.
But, even with the early deficit, Appalachian State was not to be deterred. The Mountaineers marched right down the field on the next possession to find the endzone themselves and tie the game at 7.
Miami was forced to punt on the next possession, and Guy Award frontrunner Louis Hedley pinned App State on their own 3. After the Mountaineers’ drive stalled, the snap on the punt went over the head of the punter and into the endzone, where he batted it out of play for a safety, giving Miami a 9-7 lead.
After trading punts and empty possessions, Miami extended the lead when freshman K Andres Borregales made a 27 yard FG to make the score 12-7 Miami.
But, App State was emboldened by keeping Miami out of the endzone there, and wasted no time in coming back to show Miami they were not going to roll over. On the ensuing kickoff after the FG, Jalen Virgil took the kick back 100 yards for a touchdown, and a 14-12 lead for the Mountainteers.
It was then that Miami knew they were in for a dogfight.
While the score stayed 14-12 App State into halftime — a blocked FG helped keep the score that way — it didn’t stay that way for long. Miami took the ball on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter and marched 75 yards in 6 plays to find paydirt on a Cam Harris TD run. Miami was then up 19-14 and things were looking good.
But again, App State wouldn’t go away.
After the teams traded field goals to make the score 22-17 Miami, App State had a last chance to get a signature win. The Mountaineers went down the field, aided mainly by the only vertical pass that QB Chase Brice completed all day long — a 41 yard bomb down the middle to Malik Williams — to set up a nicely designed throwback pass for a touchdown to take the lead. The Mountaineers missed the 2pt conversion, but after finding the endzone they were now ahead 23-22.
Like I said up top, winning isn’t easy, and Miami had to gut out the rest of the game. And gut it out they did.
QB D’Eriq King, who did not play his best game by any stretch of the imagination, teamed with RB Cam’ron Harris to lead Miami down the field and into FG range. Freshman K Andres Borregales nailed his 3rd FG in 4 tries to give Miami a 25-23 lead late in the 4th quarter.
Appalachian State would mount one final drive to try and pull the shocking upset, but a Tyrique Stevenson PBU on 4th and 6 ended that dream, and put Miami in position to win. A couple kneel downs (with a bit of running around to run drain some clock) later, and Miami had barely escaped with a 2 point victory.
It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but for the first time in 281 days, the Miami Hurricanes emerged victorious in a football game. Hopefully the wait between tonight and the next win for the Canes won’t be as lengthy as this one was.
Miami returns to Hard Rock Stadium next weekend to face off against the Michigan State Spartans next Saturday at Noon.