Live blog: North Carolina at No. 16 Miami Hurricanes

Hard Rock Stadium before Miami-North Carolina. (Matt Porter)

Hard Rock Stadium before Miami-North Carolina. (Matt Porter)

[Pregame observations]

MIAMI GARDENS — We’ll have in-game observations and notes from the 16th-ranked Hurricanes’ key ACC Coastal clash against North Carolina. Keep refreshing.

Final: North Carolina 20, No. 16 Miami 13

We’ll have more on the blog momentarily.

Lost fumble: 1:31 4Q

This game is all but over.

Needing an 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game, Brad Kaaya got the first 11 yards on a pass to Mark Walton. But he was sacked on the next play, and coughed up the ball. Defensive end Malik Carney beat left tackle Trevor Darling was clean to the outside, and stripped Kaaya. Defensive tackle Jeremiah Clarke scooped up the wet ball, in a steady rain, and rumbled until he was tackled with 1:31 on the clock.

Miami will fall to 4-2 (1-2 ACC) with the loss, which is likely to be a 20-13 final.

It comes down to this: 1:45 4Q

Miami, after bending on defense, did not break.

It forced a punt, and now needs to drive 80 yards for a touchdown with 1:45 on the vlock.

UNC’s wide receivers made critical plays. Ryan Switzer had a wet-ball drop but moved the chains with a diving catch on third down. Backup Thomas Jackson made a pretty over-the-shoulder catch on another third down.

One reason: the Hurricanes, who have one sack and eight tackles for loss (their goals are three and 10), aren’t rushing the passer with great success. When they get there, Mitch Trubisky is aware enough to get the ball out quick.

A bright spot on that drive: RJ McIntosh blew up a backfield pitch for a 5-yard loss, and Trent Harris hurried Trubisky on third-and-18.

Good news: Michael Pinckney returned.

Field goal: UNC 20, Miami 13. 

Miami got 3 when it wanted 7, but it needs points, period.

Michael Badgley’s 22-yard field goal brought UM to within a touchdown with 6:54 left.

The Hurricanes started on their own 27, with skies looking very threatening, and for the first time all game (that I can remember, anyway) ran plays from the shotgun.

The skies opened up before Mark Walton took a third-and-1 carry.  He gained a first down, but looked to be in a lot of pain as he laid on the turf. He walked off under his own power. It’s unclear what his injury may be.

In the rain, freshman Ahmmon Richards dropped a pass that would have moved the chains. Joe Yearby was popped for a 9-yard loss. Then Miami got lucky, in a sense: Braxton Berrios drew a targeting call on third-and-18, after a wet ball bounced off his hands. UNC linebacker Andre Smith was ejected.

Yearby held onto a second-down pass, and then on third-and-2 made one of the most important plays of the game. He took a handoff from Kaaya, cut right, and gained 42 yards before he was chased out at the 6.

Walton returned, but like before, he couldn’t find much running room. David Njoku was pushed out of the back of the end zone on third-and-goal from the 4.

Another stand: 11:44 4Q

The Miami defense, which has allowed big yardage (413) but a very respectable 5.5 yards per play, bailed out the team again.

Missed opportunity: 12:27 4Q

After that big defensive stand, the Hurricanes’ offensive could not convert.

Miami is now 3-for-12 on third downs. UNC is 11-of-18.

Starting at their own 1, the Hurricanes got out of trouble despite a clear facemask call the officials missed. UNC’s Donnie Miles got his hand inside Mark Walton’s cage.

Goal-line stand: 14:57 4Q

Potentially a major, major play in this game.

Miami stopped North Carolina inches shy of a backbreaking touchdown.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky tried to pound it in, but Kendrick Norton and Courtel Jenkins were credited with the stop.

End 3Q: UNC 20, Miami 10

Miami enters the fourth quarter inches from allowing a backbreaking touchdown, or holding its opponents to a critical field goal.

UNC has fourth-and-goal from the 1.

The Hurricanes’ lack of defensive depth caught up to them on that drive. Missing Chad Thomas, Michael Pinckney, Demetrius Jackson and Sheldrick Redwine to injuries, they appeared to be gassed. Reserve cornerback Malek Young allowed a 22-yard gain to help UNC down the field.

Even when healthier, Hurricanes have struggled to cover UNC receivers all game.

Touchdown: UNC 20, Miami 10 (3:38 3Q)

Brad Kaaya made several plays … with his legs first, and then with his arm.

Kaaya, showing pocket mobility he hadn’t all game (or in the FSU game), extended the play, rolled to his right, and hit Ahmmon Richards up the right sideline for 30 yards. On the next play, he evaded a sack, rolled right again, and found Chris Herndon for a 26-yard pickup.

Joe Yearby finished the drive with a 2-yard dive over the goal line.

The crowd is back into it.

Another big stop: 5:01 3Q

Corn Elder produced another tackle for loss, and Miami’s defense kept it in the game. Elder has nine tackles (eight solo, two for loss), a sack and a pass break-up.

With Sheldrick Redwine out, freshman Malek Young played meaningful defensive snaps for the first time all season.

Nothing doing offensively: 6:03 3Q

Miami’s offense today: 212 total yards, 2-of-10 on third down. Brad Kaaya is 9-of-19 for 127 yards.

Big stop: 7:23 3Q

Cornerback Corn Elder, who has made several hard tackles today, sacked Mitch Trubisky with great speed and violence on third-and-18. The play went for a 7-yard loss and forced a punt.

Jamal Carter, who missed the first half because of a targeting call in the FSU game, returned to help Miami’s defense. But the unit is without Demetrius Jackson, Michael Pinckney (right leg, it seems), and Sheldrick Redwine:

Chad Thomas, who has a broken right hand and an ailing right shoulder, was shaken up on that last drive.

More offensive struggles: 10:27 3Q

A David Njoku drop on first down preceded another three-and-out.

The Hurricanes have gone three-and-out on three of their seven drives. On the same number of possessions, North Carolina hasn’t done so yet.

Paid attendance: 58,731. I would guess 48,731 are actually here.

Point-saving defensive play: 11:21 3Q

A former high school basketball player showed his hops and kept it a 20-3 game.

Defensive end RJ McIntosh (6-4, 280) leaped and blocked Nick Weiler’s 39-yard field goal attempt with his forearm.

The play arrived with some worry, as standout UM linebacker Michael Pinckney laid on the turf and walked off favoring his right leg. Pinckney appeared to be favoring the same leg on a play in the first half.

Halftime: UNC 20, Miami 3

For the first time this season, the Hurricanes heard scattered boos as they left the field. Fans were unhappy about a stagnant performance in the first half of a crucial game.

Brad Kaaya was 8-of-15 for 121 yards in the first half, and Miami gained 80 yards on 22 attempts. UM was 2-of-8 on third down and earned four penalties for 43 yards. Kaaya was sacked once, on the final play of the half.

Meanwhile, UNC’s Mitch Trubisky was 14-of-19 for 162 yards, with two touchdowns. He completed gains of 50 and 40 yards. In the run game, the Hurricanes struggled to keep backup T.J. Logan in check (nine carries, 63 yards) and were burned a couple times by Trubisky (six for 37).

Is this Miami’s FSU hangover?

Touchdown: UNC 20, Miami 3 (0:18, 2Q)

The Tar Heels silenced the crowd by scoring a touchdown right before the half.

Mitch Trubisky rolled left and threw a 1-yard touchdown to Ryan Switzer, who escaped tight coverage from Jaquan Johnson.

A big play got UNC there. Wide receiver Mack Hollins was wide-open on a 49-yard reception that put the Tar Heels at the 6. Both Hollins and cornerback Sheldrick Redwine limped off.

On the play before, defensive end Demetrius Jackson limped off the field.

Linebacker Zach McCloud, who according to WQAM had x-rays on his left hand, returned to action.

Another punt: 2:27

Brad Kaaya unsnapped his helmet in frustration after another three-and-out. Then UM’s special teams made a big mistake.

UNC returner Ryan Switzer goaded the Hurricanes into a penalty, calling for a fair catch early. Corn Elder must not have seen it, because after Switzer caught the punt, Elder walked up to him and tackled him, just to be sure. The fair-catch interference put UNC at its own 41.

 

Field goal: UNC 13, Miami 3 (4:02 2Q)

Nick Weiler’s 52-yard field goal cleared the crossbar by inches put UNC up by 10.

Weiler is the senior whose 54-yard field goal beat Florida State in Tallahassee two weeks ago. Miami fans probably loved him then for running down the field doing a tomahawk chop. They probably don’t love him now.

The good news: the Hurricanes forced a three-and-out, their second in a row.

Turnover on downs: 10:51 2Q

Another trip to UNC’s red zone, another stall for Miami.

After a timeout, Brad Kaaya’s pass on fourth-and-1, from UNC’s 25, was incomplete. He was looking for David Njoku over the middle. The pass inside the 10 caromed off Njoku and was nearly intercepted, which actually might have helped the Hurricanes in the field position department.

It’s a big day for Miami’s tight ends so far, and mostly in the yards-after-catch stat column.

Njoku, who caught passes of 22 and 33 yards on that drive, has a game-high 82 yards on four catches. Chris Herndon has a 22-yard grab. No UM wide receiver has caught a pass.

Defensive stop: 10:51 2Q

A physical drive from Miami’s defense, one which could help its stagnant offense get going.

Though Mitch Trubisky’s legs got UNC 18 yards and a first down, Zach McCloud popped him. Corn Elder produced another big hit on the next play, planting UNC wide receiver Ryan Switzer immediately after a catch for a loss of 3.

Also, Miami’s backup defensive end, Joe Jackson, is a problem for UNC left tackle Bentley Spain. Jackson has a very promising future.

UNC right tackle Jon Heck departed with an injury.

Also:

Field goal: UNC 10, Miami 3 (13:39 2Q)

Michael Badgley, whose first field goal try was blocked, got that one off. It was good from 47 yards.

But it wasn’t the result Miami wanted, after converting a fourth-down try and advancing as far as the UNC 18.

On fourth-and-2 from the UNC 30, Miami went for it. Brad Kaaya apparently tried to draw an offsides call but called timeout with two seconds on the play clock. After talking it over, Kaaya dropped back and hit David Njoku for 12.

The drive stalled when receiver Stacy Coley was called for pass interference, making it first-and-25 from the 33.

Left tackle Trevor Darling allowed a quarterback hurry on second down. On third-and-21, Kaaya overthrew Njoku, who was double-covered. Field goal.

HOFers in the house

Between quarters, Miami introduced its 2017 Sports Hall of Fame class. Among the honorees: women’s basketball coach Katie Meier and baseball star Ryan Braun.

The loudest ovation was for Jeremy Shockey, who blew kisses to the crowd.

End 1: UNC 10, Miami 0

The Hurricanes were driving as the first quarter ended, down 10 points but on the move.

Brad Kaaya, who hasn’t gone deep yet, found tight end Chris Herndon for 22 yards to get Miami near midfield. Most of the those yards came after the catch. Same with David Njoku’s 15-yard pickup. New right tackle Tyree St. Louis did a fine job blocking on those plays, which were play-action roll-outs to the right.

A Marquez Williams drop and a short Mark Walton rush left Miami at fourth-and-2 from UNC’s 30.

Call overturned: 1:31 1Q

Nearly more bad news for Miami.

North Carolina attempted an onside kick, and it bounced right to Mack Hollins. UM freshman Romeo Finley was in the area, but couldn’t make the play.

Tar Heels fans probably saw that as karma, considering their playoff hopes all but ended on a botched onside kick call last season.

After review, UNC’s Corey Bell Jr. blocked his man before the ball went 10 yards. The call was overturned, and the Tar Heels kicked it into the end zone.

Touchdown: UNC 10, Miami 0 (1:34, 1Q) 

Mitch Trubisky found UNC’s Austin Proehl for a 5-yard touchdown, after a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Bug Howard caught a 15-yard pass on third down in the red zone, and T.J. Logan broke a 30-yard gain to get UNC into the red zone.

Defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins laid on the turf for a few long moments before walking off under his own power.  Remember, Gerald Willis is out this game, so Miami is light on defensive tackles. WQAM reported he had his left ankle taped, and freshman kick returner Travis Homer had his right arm examined.

On third down in the red zone, UM went dime with Robert Knowles at safety (in place of Jamal Carter, who is out for the first half because of a targeting penalty). Knowles saved a touchdown.

But Miami finds itself down early.

Missed FG: 5:39, 1Q

Michael Badgley’s last two tries have been blocked.

After a promising, run-heavy drive, UNC’s Jalen Dalton blocked Badgley’s 36-yard field goal attempt. He pushed back the middle of UM’s line (Danny Isidora and snapper Frank Gabriel were trying to keep him at bay) and shot up his paw. The ball, like the fateful extra-point attempt against Florida State, hooked left of the post.

Miami opened its second offensive series in a two-tight end formation, with Mark Walton as the lone running back.

UM ran the ball nine times — Walton gained 31 yards on six consecutive carries before Joe Yearby gained 13 on three attempts — and Brad Kaaya found Yearby on a 5-yard swing pass. Walton went back in to gain three.

However, Kaaya missed

A nice 25-yard return by Malcolm Lewis got things started.

FG: UNC 3, Miami 0 — 11:32 1Q

Nick Weiler’s 42-yard field goal put UNC up first. Those were the first points Miami has allowed in a first quarter all season. Miami outscored its opponents 45-0 in first quarters entering the game.

Aside from one pass-coverage bust, Miami’s defense had a strong series.

Sophomore Jaquan Johnson, starting at safety for the first time, broke up a pass on second down, but UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky had plenty of time on third down to complete a 40-yard sideline pass to Bug Howard.

Corn Elder broke up an end-zone pass on second down. UNC false-started twice on third down and barely called timeout before it was hit with an illegal substitution call. On third-and-18 from the 25, Trubisky overthrew Mack Hollins in the end zone.

Three-and-out: 13:02 1Q

On the first play, from Miami’s 3-yard line, left guard Kc McDermott shoved a UNC player after the whistle. He earned a personal foul, and continued to argue. Mark Walton waved his arms and threw his hands as he shouted at McDermott to line back up.

Justin Vogel saved the Hurricanes with a pretty punt to the UNC 42. Stacy Coley, wearing a brace on his sprained knee, tackled UNC standout returner Ryan Switzer in place.

UM opened in the I-formation, with fullback Marquez Williams in front of tailback Walton. Sophomore Tyree St. Louis made his first career star, at right tackle.

Kickoff

Freshman Travis Homer, instead of regular Braxton Berrios, and redshirt senior Malcolm Lewis received the kick.

Lewis took it at his own 3-yard line — an ill-advised play, since the ball was going out of bounds.

Coin toss 

UNC won and elected to defer. Miami will receive the ball to start.

Weather: 80 degrees, partly cloudy, winds out of the E/NE at 9 miles per hour. Relative humidity: 81 percent.

Crowd: Not full. About 70 percent capacity at kickoff.

Reader Comments 0

0 comments