Trailing by three with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter and the ball, Hurricanes football had an opportunity to win its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opener against the University of North Carolina (UNC) on Saturday evening at Hard Rock Stadium. Instead, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke threw an interception with seconds left to seal the victory for the Tar Heels, 27-24.
“We are all about the work and the lump that comes with it, and it stinks, and it’s painful to deal with,” Miami head coach Mario Cristobal said. “But you know what? That’s what we are here for, and gladly ready for whatever comes with it to ensure we can get back to a certain level.”
Saturday was Miami’s third consecutive loss, as it had previously fallen to Texas A&M and Middle Tennessee State. Van Dyke, who passed for a season-high 496 yards and three touchdowns, had his best game of the season, but it was not enough.
“None of the stats matter if we lose the game,” Van Dyke said.
The Tar Heels immediately took the lead in the first quarter with a 74-yard touchdown by J.J. Jones on their first drive, exploiting a miscommunication in Miami’s secondary.
In the second quarter, UNC drove 99 yards for an Omarion Hampton touchdown, putting the game at 14-0. The score was set up by a 52-yard pass from quarterback Drake Maye to receiver Antoine Greene.
The Hurricanes didn’t seem fazed by their two-touchdown deficit, though. They marched down the field on the ensuing drive and scored a touchdown themselves. Wide receiver Key’shawn Smith’s inside slant was run to perfection as Van Dyke found him for the 20-yard score.
However, UNC wouldn’t go away, converting a fourth-and-9 to set up a Josh Downs touchdown from 15 yards out later in the second quarter.
With 1:31 remaining in the half, the ‘Canes made it a one-possession game again. Van Dyke threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Henry Parrish Jr. while being dragged down at his hip.
A late first-half interception by Maye set up a Miami field goal as time expired, making the halftime score 21-17 in favor of UNC.
Miami came out of halftime just like they went into it: strong. On the second play of the third quarter, safety Kam Kinchens plucked Maye’s lob out of mid-air for an interception.
“Very great leader to have behind me in the secondary … he’s been playing very, very well. I’ve really been enjoying playing with Kam,” cornerback DJ Ivey said.
Miami’s defense shined all throughout the second half, as it allowed 150 yards after giving up 300 in the first.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Miami had a chance to tie it up in the red zone. However, running back Jaylan Knighton fumbled the ball on fourth-and-1, and UNC safety Gio Biggers recovered it.
On the ensuing drive, UNC drained 8:21 off the clock and extended its lead with a field goal, putting them up 27-17.
With limited time, Miami made a comeback attempt, scoring off a touchdown pass from Van Dyke to transfer receiver Colbie Young. However, when Miami got the ball back after quickly stopping North Carolina, Van Dyke threw an interception to end the game.
The ‘Canes play Virginia Tech next in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Oct. 15. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.