Miami @ North Carolina
At the time, Miami was #10 in the nation and 5-0 coming into this game and North Carolina was 1-4. Not exactly the setting for high drama on a Thursday night. But it sure ended that way in a 27-23 thriller. Looking back at UNC’s year now it’s easy to see that the Tar Heels schedule was front loaded as North Carolina won 5 in a row following the Miami game and finished 6-6. UNC gets Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.
Things got started when Stephen Morris overthrew Herb Waters on the opening possession and was intercepted by Dominique Green. UNC platooned QBs Bryn Renner & Marquise Williams all night, but Williams gave the ball right back when the Tar Heels had moved into scoring position with an interception by UM’s Tracy Howard. Duke Johnson then proceeded to break off a HUGE 59-yard rush, but the Canes failed to punch it in for a Touchdown despite having 6 plays to go 12 yards and settled for a FG.
North Carolina got on the board first with a nifty roll out play-action pass from Williams to Eric Ebron and used an Ebron broken tackle to take it the 71-yard distance. Stephen Morris then connected with Phillip Dorsett for 68-yards on a pass to set up a field goal to make the score 7-6. During Miami’s next possession Dorsett was lost for the rest of the regular season with a torn MCL on a reverse. Dorsett is a BIG play receiver for the Canes and Al Golden and Dorsett both expect for the standout WR to be available in the Russell Athletic Bowl. But Dorsett was lost against the Tar Heels. Also in the 1st Quarter the Canes lost Duke Johnson to a concussion after taking a knee to the helmet while pass blocking. Miami was going to have to win the game without two of their top playmakers.
UNC put together a decent drive but WR Artie Burns BLOCKED the 47-yard attempt and Ladarius Gunter returned it 67 yards for a TD to take a 13-7 lead. North Carolina then answered immediately after another big play to Eric Ebron to set up a Quinshad Davis TD to regain the lead 14-13 North Carolina.
Stephen Morris exacerbated the situation with an INT to Tre Boston deep in North Carolina territory that negated a scoring opportunity and started a 12 play scoring drive for the Tar Heels that eneded in a Field Goal. UNC didn’t do anything special, they methodically moved the ball down the field before stalling at the 8-yard line and settled for a field goal.
To end the half, Miami and North Carolina traded possessions but the Canes blocked a North Carolina punt with 7 seconds to go in the half before time expired and the teams went into the locker room with North Carolina leading 17-13.
To start the 3rd quarter, Miami’s Matt Goudis missed a 43-yard FG, and North Carolina netted a field goal in the opening two possessions to make the game 20-13 Tar Heel lead. We headed into the 4th quarter during a 12-play Field Goal drive for North Carolina that started with a Stephen Morris INT on a screen pass in the redzone with 3:24 to go in the 3rd quarter. At the end of the drive, North Carolina held a promising 23-13 lead with 14:17 to play.
Miami rallied rushing Dallas Crawford almost exclusively, but with some help from Clive Walford (35-yard reception from Morris) to bring the Hurricanes to just a 3-point deficit. Miami forced a 3 AND OUT, but Morris quickly returned possession back over to the Tar Heels with an INT with scoring position. Bryn Renner then lost the game by over-throwing his WR on a forced throw and allowing Tracy Howard to make a play for the INT. The Canes were able to get the ball and punt it out of scoring territory.
The game was won after a UNC punt started Miami at the 10-yard line and the Canes took over with 4;11 left and went on a 13-play 90-yard scoring drive that featured Dallas Crawford. There isn’t a standout play but Miami did not panic in the face of a ticking clock and 2 timeouts. The Canes rushed Dallas Crawford and Eduardo Clements on the series’ first 5 plays and found all kinds room to run. Of the 13 plays of the game-winning drive 10 were rushes, and Stephen Morris was 3-3 for 34 yards (two 1st downs). Miami went on to win 27-23 in comeback fashion.
What Do We Take Away?
Miami dealt with a lot of adversity in this game. They were down, they were on the road, it was a blackout, it was Thursday night. The Canes lost Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett and they still found a way to win the game.
The Hurricanes rolled up 556 yards of offense and allowed UNC 500. Stephen Morris’ 4 INTs was a season high and nearly cost the Hurricanes their first game of the 2013 season.
I think the thing to take away from this game is that Miami’s team on offense, defense, and special teams finds a way to make life difficult. This is a game Miami should have lost, but when it came down to ‘crunch time’ players made plays. Dallas Crawford is easily the MVP in this game filling in for Duke Johnson with 33 carries, 137 yards and 2 TDs.
Miami’s made plays, but North Carolina’s offense was not as productive as Louisville’s in 2013, as the Cards produced 21 more yards per game than the Heels…..if the Cards gain 500 yards of offense against Miami I would feel very good about Louisville’s chances. North Carolina finished 70th in the country in Total Defense while the Cards finished 2nd with a 150 yards per game gap.
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