No. 10 Canes Fizzle In Second Half, Fall 20-19 To Rival No. 23 Florida State

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After leading 13-0 late in the second quarter, No. 10 Miami went scoreless until the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and saw No. 23 Florida State score 20 unanswered points as the Hurricanes fell 20-19 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 65,685 fans at Hard Rock Stadium.

Miami (4-1, 1-1 ACC) broke its scoring drought late in the fourth on a fourth down touchdown grab senior receiver Stacy Coley. Coley’s score, which was set up by an impressive Braxton Berrios punt return, juiced up the home crowd but all of the wind went out of their sails when Florida State busted through and blocked Miami’s extra point – leaving the Canes trailing 20-19 with 1:38 left in the game.

Miami, still having all three of its timeouts, opted not to onside kick. Florida State (4-2, 1-2) then was able to rush for a pair of first downs and run out the clock, sealing its seventh consecutive victory over Miami. The Hurricanes haven’t defeated Florida State since 2009 and have lost to their hated rivals in 10 of the last 12 meetings.

Canes head coach Mark Richt called Saturday’s outcome “a tough one”.

“First of all, congratulations to Florida State for doing a good job winning the game and doing what they needed to do to win it,” Richt said. “Tough one, to finish the way it did. Obviously getting what looked [like] the score to tie it up and not being able to protect well enough to kick an extra point is tough…tough for everybody. But, to [FSU’s] credit, somebody cared enough to blast through and [block the extra point]. It was a great effort on their part.”

The Seminoles chipped away at Miami’s lead right before halftime with a field goal. Then FSU scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns – a 59-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Cook and a 20-yard pass to Kermit Whitfield – to take a 17-13 lead before extending that lead to 20-13 with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Miami’s drought spanned 29 game minutes. After Michael Badgley’s 51-yard field goal with 1:16 left in the second quarter, UM’s next four drives ended with an interception and three punts respectively – which enabled FSU to win the time of possession battle 36:57 to 23:03.

Cook ran for a game-high 150 yards on 27 carries to go along with the long touchdown catch that brought the Seminoles to within 13-10 in the third quarter. Seminoles’ redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois finished 20-of-31 with 234 yards and two scores.

Miami’s run game was nearly non-existent Saturday. After putting up big numbers on the ground through the first four games, UM only amassed 62 total rushing yards on 28 attempts. Joe Yearby and Mark Walton each finished with 39 yards. Walton would’ve had much more but he had a 45-yard touchdown run – which would’ve allowed Miami to reclaim the lead after Florida State had taken a 17-13 advantage – nullified by a holding penalty.

UM’s Brad Kaaya had a rough night. The junior signal caller was sacked three times, completed 19 of 32 passes for 214 yards with two touchdowns – both to Coley – and threw a costly third-quarter interception – and he lost a tooth.

Kaaya took a helmet-to-helmet shot from Florida State linebacker Matthew Thomas. The hit, which drew a targeting penalty and resulted in Thomas’ ejection from the game, was hard enough to jar loose one of Kaaya’s back molars.

The need for dental work aside, the lasting effects of the hit on Kaaya grew more evident as the night wore on – especially on his third quarter interception.

Still leading 13-3, the Canes drove down to the FSU 18-yard line and appeared poised to extend their lead until Kaaya tried to force a pass into freshman receiver Ahmmon Richards but it was underthrown and picked off by Seminole sophomore cornerback Tarvarus McFadden.

That interception drained UM of its momentum and sparked Florida State.

Richt tried to take the blame for the play.

“From a quarterbacks coaching point of view, I must have planted some kind of seed in his head for him to go ahead and make that throw,” Richt said. “I put that on me…that’s just a ball that if it’s not there, launch it out of the back of the end zone. Go play another down.”

Kaaya, who looked a bit out of sorts during the postgame press conference, said it was a miscommunication between him and the receiver.

“It was a route that we hadn’t got a chance to work on much this week. I thought Ahmmon [Richards] was going to undercut him on the corner route but he kept it up top,” Kaaya said. “Just a miscommunication. I kind of threw it underneath and the corner turned around and made a play.”
Still, Kaaya was feeling the effects of going up against Florida State’s defense.

“Not feeling amazing [physically]. I’ll go and see the trainers tomorrow,” Kaaya began. “I took some hits today, took some hits to the head which I wasn’t a fan of. I lost a tooth, but I’m good. I’ll be in there next week.”

Coley finished with a team-high seven catches for 80 yards to go along with the two touchdowns. Richards had four receptions for 58 yards while Florida State was led by Whitfield’s seven 83 receiving yards on seven catches.

Next week – really the entire month of October – will put this young UM team to the test. Miami, which will likely fall somewhere in the late teens in the new AP and Coaches Polls, will host ACC Coastal rival North Carolina next Saturday.

No. 17 North Carolina defeated Florida State on a last-second field goal last week but lost to No. 24 Virginia Tech, who the Canes will travel to play on October 20th, Saturday in a classic “trap game”.

Though the Canes’ loss to the Noles stings, they still have their ultimate goal of claiming that elusive title of ACC Coastal champs very much in front of them.

Junior defensive end Chad Thomas said there’s no time for a Hurricane pity party.

“We lost. Everybody is hurting. When you take an L, you’re going to hurt and you’re going to feel some type of way,” Thomas said. “But we have to get on to the next game tomorrow. We’re going to practice with the right mindset and just focus on North Carolina.”

Jamal Carter Ejected

UM safety Jamal Carter was ejected late in the fourth quarter after being flagged for targeting.

Carter was deep in coverage and teamed with fellow safety Rayshawn Jenkins to sandwich FSU’s Kermit Whitfield and forced an incomplete pass. Carter hit Whitfield and it appeared to be a fairly clean shot – using his shoulder to deliver the boom – but a late flag flew in and the officials upheld the call after review.

Fans were upset with the call and threw bottles and cans onto the field after the referee announced Carter’s ejection.

It’s the second time in two years that Carter has been flagged and ejected for targeting.

Per NCAA rules, Carter will miss the first half of next week’s game.

After the game Jenkins spoke about the hit and the penalty.

“In my opinion it was a bad call,” Jenkins said. “[Carter] hit him with his shoulder and he hit [Whitfield] on his shoulder – there was no head-to-head contact. At that point they just have to let us play. As safeties, we worry about targeting all the time. We can’t tackle how we really want to tackle because we’re worried about that call. In my opinion it was a good play by Jamal.”

Teams Donate To Hurricane Relief

South Florida was largely spared the destructive wrath of Hurricane Matthew – which devastated the island nations of Haiti and the Bahamas and slammed the central and northern east coast of Florida.

Saturday’s game, which was in jeopardy of either being moved from Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium or canceled altogether due to the initially forecasted track of the storm, began with a moment of silence in recognition of all those impacted by Hurricane Matthew throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

Also, both UM and Florida State wore helmet stickers with the state of Florida covered by the Red Cross logo to honor those impacted by the category-4 storm.

More significantly, prior to the kickoff of the game, the schools presented a check for $100,000 – $50,000 from each program – to a general hurricane relief fund.

More from J.T. Wilcox

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