Self-imposed errors doom Miami again in 41-31 loss to North Carolina

After the gut-wrenching 3-point loss against Georgia Tech, redshirt senior Jaden Davis crouches on the field before retiring to the locker room. Photo credit: Charisma Jones

A week after a series of mistakes cost Miami its ACC opener against Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes were looking to rebound against an undefeated North Carolina team. However, the same mistakes plagued Miami as they dropped a crucial game to UNC, 41-31.

After a solid first half where it held the lead, everything came crashing down in the second half for Miami as turnovers and untimely penalties sank the Hurricanes. Miami (4-2, 0-2 ACC) turned the ball over four times and gave up 69 yards on its seven penalties.

“Obviously disappointed, especially after we felt we were progressing in the first half,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “But credit to North Carolina as well.”

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke threw for 391 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions, but after his stellar first half, he struggled for most of the second half.

Running back Henry Parrish Jr. led Miami in rushing with 73 yards on 13 attempts, and Jacolby George paced the ‘Canes in receiving with 125 yards.

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye proved his status as one of the nation’s premier passers, finishing with 273 yards and four touchdowns. Maye’s number-one target, Devontez Walker, torched the Miami secondary for 132 yards while catching three touchdowns.

North Carolina (6-0, 3-0 ACC) was even more penalty-prone than Miami, with 147 penalty yards on 14 penalties, but avoided any turnovers on the night, helping the Heels secure the victory.

The Tar Heels struck first with an 18-yard strike from Maye to Walker halfway through the first quarter. Miami drove to the North Carolina goal line on the ensuing drive before Parrish Jr. fumbled, giving the ball back to UNC and leaving crucial points on the board.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Hurricanes got on the board on their first drive of the second quarter, capped off by an 18-yard touchdown from Van Dyke to Xavier Restrepo to tie the game at seven.

With that momentum, Miami would score again on a 35-yard dime by Van Dyke to George to give the ‘Canes a 14-7 lead. Van Dyke took a brutal hit on the throw but got up quickly and continued playing.

The Heels responded quickly with an impressive drive that brought them deep into Miami territory before they faced a 4th and 2. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Miami defensive coordinator Lance Guidry gave UNC a first down, who capitalized as running back Omarion Hampton punched it in from two yards out.

Following a North Carolina punt late in the first half, the Hurricanes drove into field goal range and kicked a 28-yard field goal to give them the 17-14 lead heading into halftime.

Van Dyke had an excellent first half with 169 yards and two touchdowns, and George totaled 111 yards receiving to lead the ‘Canes. On the other side of the ball, Miami’s defense put constant pressure on Maye, limiting his first-half production as he only completed eight passes on 19 attempts. The ‘Canes also capitalized on a staggering 97 penalty yards on UNC to take their three-point halftime lead.

It took only four plays into the second half for UNC to regain the lead as Maye hit Walker for a huge 56-yard touchdown, setting the tone for the rest of the second half.

On Miami’s next drive, an arid snap caused another turnover, but the defense stood firm and stopped the Tar Heels from taking advantage of the fumble.

However, the ‘Canes gave it right back to UNC on an interception by Van Dyke. This turnover proved costly as Maye connected with Walker for his third touchdown to offer North Carolina an 11-point advantage.

UNC extended its lead even further on its next drive as Maye found Hampton for a short touchdown, scoring 35-17 as the game began slipping away from Miami.

Miami finally scored its first points of the second half on a 13-yard touchdown pass by Van Dyke to Restrepo. However, North Carolina recovered an onside kick, killed some clock, and kicked a field goal to extend its lead.

The Hurricanes got a quick score as Van Dyke connected with Breshard Smith for a 54-yard touchdown. Miami got the ball back with a minute remaining, but the clock ran out as Van Dyke threw an interception to end the game.

Miami will return home next weekend for another pivotal in-conference game against the Clemson Tigers. Kickoff for next Saturday’s matchup is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will air on ACC Network.