CHAPEL HILL (CBSMiami) – The 8th ranked Miami Hurricanes escaped Kenan Stadium with a 24 to 19 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. Miami stays undefeated at 7-0, snapping a 2-game skid to the Tar Heels in the process.
Once again, the “Cardiac Canes” lived up to their nickname, nearly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
After a North Carolina touchdown cut Miami’s lead to 24-19 with three minutes to go, Miami recovered UNC’s onside kick attempt – only to see sophomore running back Travis Homer fumble on the next play to give the Heels a turnover – and new life.
Carolina gained possession for a chance at a game-winning touchdown, and Miami nearly gift-wrapped it. On a Tar Heels second down run, Canes linebacker Zach McCloud committed a personal foul on a late hit out of bounds to advance the Heels to Miami’s 37.
Then, two of McCloud’s teammates saved the day for Miami. On the very next play, defensive end Joe Jackson stripped Carolina running back Jordon Brown for a fumble, recovered by UM safety Jaquan Johnson.
The Hurricanes took back possession with 2:08 left, and the offense ran out the clock with six running plays and a first down.
Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier and the Miami offense struggled to sustain drives, but Rosier hit on a handful of big plays to give his team the edge. Miami’s junior signal caller finished the game 16 for 38 passing for 356 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.
With Miami trailing 6-0, Rosier found tight end Chris Herndon for a 51 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Canes their first points of the day. Rosier would later connect with freshman receiver Jeff Thomas on a 78 yard deep ball for another score on the first play of the third quarter. The Thomas catch is Miami’s longest play of the season so far, and it put the Hurricanes ahead 14-6.
In the fourth quarter, Rosier found freshman running back DeeJay Dallas out of the backfield, and Dallas hit a second gear to burn a trio of defenders for 49 yards on the play. Rosier found Braxton Berrios for a 5-yard touchdown on the next play. Miami’s lead grew to 24-13.
While the passing game was opportunistic, the Hurricanes’ running game sputtered all day. Leading rusher Travis Homer only managed 40 yards on 16 carries. The Hurricanes averaged just 1.8 yards per carry as a team. North Carolina played uncharacteristically stout at the line of scrimmage, considering they ranked 113th in the country at stopping the run before Saturday.
Miami intercepted Tar Heels quarterback Nathan Elliot three times, the final of those collected by safety Sheldrick Redwine, who wrote “SC (SportsCenter) Top 10” on a dry erase board on the sideline after putting on the turnover chain. Redwine jumped a receiver’s route on a brilliant gamble and returned the pick 17 yards to the UNC 15 yard line. Miami’s offense failed to cash in, though, with Rosier throwing his lone interception of the game three plays later.
Linebacker Charles Perry and cornerback Michael Jackson recorded Miami’s other two interceptions. Jackson hauled in his third INT in two games.
Miami sacked Elliot four times. Joe Jackson led the way with 1.5 sacks on the day.
The narrow victory brings Miami to 7-0 on the season and 5-0 in conference. The Hurricanes remain in the drivers’ seat in the ACC Coastal Division, but a pivotal matchup looms.
On November 4th, 8th ranked Miami will host Number 13 Virginia Tech (6-1, 2-1 ACC) at Hard Rock Stadium, with the balance of Coastal power on the line. A Hokies win would level the loss column but give them the tiebreaker over Miami.
Meanwhile, North Carolina falls to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in conference. The Tar Heels have been snake-bitten this season, having already lost 17 players for the season with injury.
The all-time series between Miami and North Carolina is now even at 10-10.