BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
The month of October hasn’t been very kind for the Miami Hurricanes.
Miami dropped a heart breaking loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday, October 7, 23-20 when Coach Mario Cristobal called a running play that led to a fumble loss instead of kneeling down with about 30 seconds left in the contest. He owned up to the costly mistake a few days later.
A week later, The Hurricanes hit the road and lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels on October 14, 41-31 as QB Tyler Van Dyke sustained a lower extremity injury and was limited during the week of practice.
These pair of losses knocked Miami out of the polls as the Hurricanes headed into Saturday’s showdown vs the Clemson Tigers.
Prior to the game, Cristobal decided to not play Van Dyke as Emory Williams took the majority of the snaps during practice.
When you have a new QB, coaches tend to look toward the running game to take the pressure off and that’s what occurred.
On the opening drive of the contest, Clemson was driving the ball down the field but the drive stalled as the Canes forced a fumble into the Tigers end zone enabling the Hurricanes to take the ball at their own 20-yard line.
It took all of 14 seconds for Miami to turn that turnover into points as running back Brashard Smith ran 80-yards, fumbled right before the end zone. Lucky for the canes, Jacolby George recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Canes a 7-0 lead and this would be the margin at the end of the first quarter.
Clemson proceeded to score 17 unanswered points as the Tigers led 17-7 by the end of the third quarter thanks to the combination of QB Cade Klubnik who went 18/34 for 314 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Wide receiver Jake Briningstool was targeted 10 times, had five receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Briningstool looked so impressive that he could be on a future NFL roster playing on Sundays.
On a 79 degree night with clear skies, the Hurricanes showed no quit as they outscored Clemson 10-0 in the fourth quarter.
With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Williams hit Colbie Young for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 17-14. The time of the drive was 15 plays, 75 yards and 9:01
The Hurricanes followed this drive up with another one that went went 10 plays, 43 yards and lasted 5:15 leading to a 38-yard FG by Andres Borregales as the score was tied 17-17.
Both teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime making the score 20-20.
In the second overtime, Ajay Allen, who had 16 carries for for 54 yards scored his lone touchdown, but the decisive one, a three-yarder to give Miami a 26-20 lead, and a successful two point conversion increased it to 28-20.
This set the stage for Clemson’s next drive which would come up short as the Tigers were unable to score on three straight short running plays.
On the game’s final play, needing no more than a yard for the end zone, Klubnik faked a handoff and rolled left, only to have no chance of getting past Miami linebacker Corey Flagg, who made the tackle and the Hurricanes sprinted onto the field in celebration.
A year ago, lost on the road to Clemson 40-10 where the Tigers tacked a touchdown on with 16 seconds remaining.
The loss means that Swinney has to wait until today before becoming the school’s outright leader in wins. He remains tied with Frank Howard for the most in Tigers history with 165.
Going into this game, Clemson had been 16-3 in the Swinney era in regular season games following a bye week, 47-10 in night games since the start of the 2015 season. Clemson had also blown out Miami in each of the last four seasons between between the schools by a combined score of 178-30.
As for the Hurricanes, they were 0-5 in home ACC games since the start of last season. That matched the longest home losing streak in conference games, dating back to the Big East Days. The Hurricanes dropped five straight ACC games at home during a stretch spanning 2007 and 2008.
Miami dominated the rushing yards by out gaining Clemson 211-21. Meanwhile, the Tigers doubled up the Canes in passing yards 314-151. Miami led in total yards 362-335. Time of possession went Miami’s way as the Canes led 34:54-25:06.
The Hurricanes were hit with eight penalties for 90 yards while Clemson mustered up seven for 38 yards.
The Tigers had four fumbles, two lost and one interception while Miami had a pair of fumbles but none of those lost to go a long with one interception.
There was no question that this was a hard fought, physical football game as a crowd of 48,562 observed. Miami improved its record to 5-2 while Clemson dropped to 4-3.
There were also representatives from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, in addition to the Senior and Hula Bowls.
After the game, Coach Cristobal and the players made available in the post-game press were unquestionably in a much better mood than they were after the Georgia Tech game. I asked Cristobal about the final play. Williams comments were unbelievable as he told every media member that what we were asking, “Good Question” and you’re going to see this in one of the videos.
The Miami Hurricanes face the Virginia Cavaliers today at Hard Rock Stadium at 3:30 PM with a chance to become bowl eligible.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com and you can find him on Twitter/X @TribuneSouth.
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