In a game that resembled the wildest of Arena League Football contests, UM (4-1, 3-0 in the ACC) survived a game that defied logic 44-37 over NC State.
Stephen Morris set a Miami Hurricanes record with 566 yards passing as the two teams combined for nearly 1300 yards. A 4th quarter bomb to Phillip Dorsett (7 catches for 191 yards and 2 scores) when it seemed like the deep pass was all that was working, proved to be the difference. It was Morris' 5th TD passing of the game.
The game started innocently enough.
On NC State's second drive Tony Creecy took advantage of some poor tackling and rumbled 43 yards to set up his own one yard plunge and a 7-0 lead. But Miami quickly answered. Stephen Morris connected with Rayshawn Scott for 52 yards, and two plays later Morris hit Allen Hurns for a beautiful 14 yard catch in the corner of the end zone to equalize things. Following some great coverage on special teams, NC State gave UM an absolute gift when a shotgun snap over the head of Mike Glennon resulted in a safety. A pretty catch and run by Hurns for 43 got the 'Canes going on the following drive. Morris hit Phillip Dorsett for 24 yards in the same corner of the end zone Hurns scored and Miami was quickly up 16-7. On the play the 'Canes victimized Wolpack All-American CB David Amerson.
The fireworks continued on Miami's next series as Morris deftly hit Scott for 77 yards and a score, quickly recognizing that NC State jumped off side, and taking advantage of the free play. Again Amerson was targeted.
Just like last week Miami had jumped out to 16 point big lead, this time 23-7.
That's when things got sloppy for both teams.
On NC State's next series, Gionni Paul stripped Shadrach Thornton, AJ Highsmith recovered, and the 'Canes were back in business. Mike James ran through 7 tackles for a 24 yard gain to set UM up, but Miami failed to capitalize. A tipped Morris pass resulted in an INT in the end zone ending the drive. The INT gave NC State life. A 73 yarder from Glennon to Quinton Payton set up an easy 5 yarder to Creece and it was now a 23-14 lead. Miami seemed to take momentum back when Eddie Johnson came in untouched and nailed Glennon to force a fumble, that Shayon Green recovered. Miami blew the opportunity however when Jake Wieclaw missed a 19 yard field goal attempt. NC State methodically moved the ball down field on their next possession, but this time Brandon McGee ripped the ball away from Tobias Palmer on the 2 yard line to keep the lead at 9. Vaughn Telemaque next got in the act, and forced the fourth Wolfpack turnover of the half by laying the wood to Brandon Barnes with 3:52 remaining 2 series later. But Wieclaw again missed, this time from 41. And Miami had blown yet another scoring opportunity.
After an explosive first quarter, both teams looked like they tried to out miscue each other in the 2nd. Each squad limped to the half with Miami up 23-14.
The mistakes continued in the 2nd half. After the Hurricanes produced a stop on third and short, a running into the punter gave the NCSU the ball back. Mike Glennon would capitalize with a 5 yard strike to Bryan Underwood and the lead was sliced to 23-21.
As usual, when things got hot, Miami responded.
Following a nifty stop by the defense, Morris picked things back up. A 40 yard pitch and catch to Phillip Dorsett as well as a costly offside by Amerson set up Duke Johnson's 4 yard score and the lead was 30-21. Glennon and the Wolfpack continued to apply the pressure however as Glennon hit Underwood again, this time from 28 yards out on a gutsy 4th and 1 call. NC State missed the extra point, and Miami was still on top 30-27.
Miami reverted back to the best play in its playbook and Dorsett hauled in a 46 yarder from Morris, who continued his best Daryle Lamonica impersonation with the perfect deep pass. Miami would finish it off with Morris threading the needle to Scott from 13 yards out for a 37-27 lead.
But once again, Glennon and NC State struck back. A 61 yard bomb to Rashard Smith set up a 5 yard completion to Smith that once again cut into Miami's lead.
Miami moved the ball yet again, but a 43 yard miss by Wieclaw (his third of the day) gave NC State the ball back with 4 plus minutes to go. The 'Canes defense bent but did not break, but Niklas Sadie still hit a 51 yard FG to tie it at 37. Miami moved the ball into NC State territory with under 2 minutes to go but the offense stalled. Following a great punt by Botts, Thomas Finnie picked off Glennon to set Miami up at their own 40 with under a minute to go.
That's when the most amazing play in an indescribable game happened.
As if the game could have been decided any other way, Morris play faked to James, scrambled away from two defenders and launched a 60 yard bomb to Phillip Dorsett for the lead with just 19 seconds remaining!!!
If Sun Life Stadium had a roof, the fans that showed up today surely would have torn it off. And just like that, in the most improbable of circumstances, Miami is 4-1.
Next week the 'Canes will take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in Soldier Field. There's no telling what that game will bring.
Ben Jones got the start at RT, following his big time performance against GT.
Natambu Akil-Fentress had a huge hit on special teams prior to the safety.
A beautiful 80 yard punt return to the house by Dorsett was wiped out by a block in the back.
Morris finished the 1st quarter 12-17 for 271 yards, 3 TDs and an INT.
Dalton Botts did his best Jim Brown impersonation and chugged through 2 tackles to pick up the first down, inside on a fake FG in the 2nd quarter.
Miami's vaunted rushing attack mounted just 85 yards rushing.
Rayshawn Scott had a career day with 6 catches 180 yards and 2 scores.
Freshman (not named Duke Johnson) Notes:
Deon Bush had a huge hit to break up a 3rd and 7 pass on NC State's opening series.
Gabe Terry annihilated a defender on the punt return team.
Tyriq McCord continued to see extended playing time rushing the passer on 3rd downs.
Corey King and Earl Moore both saw extensive action at DT.
Tracy Howard replaced Brandon McGee when he was shaken up in the 4th quarter.
OT Ben Jones appeared to injure his left ankle late in the first quarter.
CB Brandon McGee was shaken up in the fourth quarter.
OLB Eddie Johnson had an undisclosed injury to his right leg. Johnson returned shortly after.