Hurricanes football fought hard in a New York battle, facing a challenging atmosphere from a Rutgers-heavy crowd in Yankee Stadium as the Scarlet Knights defeated the Canes 31-24.
Miami gave the nod to Sophomore quarterback Jacurri Brown in the Bronx yesterday afternoon, his first start of the season. Brown’s running ability was on full display this afternoon, tallying 57 yards and scoring two touchdowns with his legs.
Miami’s start to the game could have been better. In the game’s opening drive, Rutgers gashed through the Hurricane run defense, running the ball 11 times for 55 yards before quarterback Gavin Wimsatt ran it in himself for the score. Wimsatt, the junior quarterback, only threw the ball 15 times for 84 yards but scored two touchdowns with his legs.
To make matters worse, in Miami’s first drive, freshman running back Mark Fletcher Jr. went down with an apparent left foot injury. Fletcher was reportedly unable to put any pressure on his foot.
Head Coach Mario Cristobal told reporters the running back’s X-rays were negative, but “there was something there.”
Fletcher was making a name for himself in a deep Hurricane depth chart, running for 500 yards, averaging five yards per carry, and scoring five touchdowns on the year.
After finding themselves in an early 14-0 deficit and turning the ball over, Miami seemed to finally wake up halfway through the second quarter, scoring 17 unanswered against the Scarlet Knights.
One of the critical reasons for this success was the connection between Brown and junior receiver Xavier Restrepo. Restrepo was targeted 17 times by the quarterback, making his presence felt. Restrepo finished his last game of the season with 11 grabs for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Restrepo became the sixth receiver in Miami history to record a 1000-yard season, ending his campaign with 1082 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
With seven Hurricane starters opting out of the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl, Miami felt their presence missed defensively.
Throughout the game, Rutgers was able to have their way in the rushing attack, tallying 208 yards on the ground. Junior running back Kyle Monogai did the most damage to the Hurricanes, rushing for 160 yards on 25 carries and scoring a touchdown. To cap it off, the 5’95’9 running back received the Pinstripe Bowl MVP with his performance.
The game’s turning point came from the Rutgers’ special teams. With the score at 17-14 Miami, the Hurricane offense was forced to punt from their 13-yard line. Rutgers special teamer Trevor Yeboah-Kodie blocked punter Dylan Joyce’s kick, which Rutgers’ Timmy Ward scooped up in the end zone to regain the lead.
After the blocked punt, Rutgers never looked back, smothering the Hurricane offense and controlling the clock for a chunk of the second half.
However, Miami fought until the end, scoring a one-yard quarterback keeper from Jacurri Brown, followed by cornerback Te’Cory Couch recovering an onside kick.
With about 11 seconds left, Brown hit Restrepo about a yard short of the first down marker on fourth down, ending the game at 31-24.
Today’s loss for Miami signifies the ‘Cane’s first-ever loss to Rutgers. Coming into the Pinstripe Bowl, Miami was a perfect 11-0 in the all-time series against Rutgers, dating back to 1993. The Hurricanes had previously handled the Scarlet Knights comfortably, winning by an average score of 46-10 during this span.
Miami wrapped up their season with a 7-6 record in Mario Cristobal’s second year but will still be looking for his first bowl game victory in his tenure. Miami has lost five consecutive bowl games and 11 of their last 13. The Hurricane’s previous bowl victory was in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl, where Miami defeated West Virginia.
Miami will begin the 2024 season in Gainesville with an instate matchup against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2024.