Miami (5-2, 3-1 ACC) controls their own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division. A showdown with the two Techs are looming.
Simply, Miami dominated. It was a contest for the first 15 minutes, but after the initial quarter, the ‘Canes took control of the game, their destiny, and the faithful crowd.
It would have been easy to fold the green and orange tents after that 76-yard scamper by Johnny White, giving UNC an early 10-3 lead, with ‘Canes fans around the country asking if this team had heart, desire, and pride.
Not again. Not another big game no-show. We were shaking our heads, asking questions.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Vaughn Telemaque fumed. He refused defeat, he refused to lose, he refused to play without intensity and emotion. Pumping up his teammates and the crowd, the defense took over. The UM defense held UNC scoreless the rest of the game and forced an efficient and experienced TJ Yates into multiple mistakes, picking off two passes, doubling his season total, and accumulating five sacks.
Jacory Harris was 21-of-32 for 217 yards, throwing three TDs and a pick.
Damien Berry rushed 19 times for 109 yards and a score. He ran with authority, purpose, and reckless abandon. Lamar Miller had 11 rushes for 69 yards, efficiently moving the chains and close to several game-breaking plays. Mike James got 11 touches and turned it into 54 yards, also running with emotion and purpose.
Travis Benjamin hauled in four passes for 67 yards and a highlight-reel score. Leonard Hankerson and LaRon Byrd also had four catches, each breaking the plane once.
DE Allen Bailey had 3.5 sacks, Micanor Regis had one, and Ramon Buchanan and Brandon Harris each recorded a pick. MLB Colin McCarthy led the team in tackles with seven.
For those lucky enough to witness this beat down in person, they witnessed an emotional, spirited effort on both sides of the ball, with the defense taking yardage gains personally and the offense not taking no for an answer.
Emotion. Fire. Desire. Communication. Execution. Will.
The ‘Canes took criticism for showing no life or emotion all week long. Randy Shannon and Mark Whipple showed they are human after all, congratulating the players on positive plays and effort.
Emotion, jumping up and down on the sidelines, high-fiving each other after good plays, slapping one another on the helmet.
Fire, refusing to lose. A leader stepping up and being vocal. Not laying down and fighting back after being behind. Our guys were having fun out there.
Desire, Berry and Miller running. The effort of Aldarius Johnson on the called back TD throw. The constant rush of the front four, never giving up on a play. Offensive lineman finishing blocks. Wide receivers coming back to the ball, finishing routes and helping out their QB, making plays and breaking tackles. Jacory leading his pass catchers, settling down and not making mistakes. Bailey fighting out of double-teams, elevating his NFL Draft stock.
Communication on the sidelines. Bailey talking to his teammates, showing his coaches how the UNC offense was scheming him. Telemaque taking control and voicing his displeasure about a long run for a Tar Heels touchdown. The secondary disguising coverages, giving Yates different looks, confusing and putting pressure on him in the pocket.
Execution, 6-of-15 on 3rd Down (40%) and 3-of-3 on 4th down, continuing drives. Limiting turnovers. Scoring in the Red-Zone 5-of-5 times. Kicking four kickoffs for touchbacks. Whipple and John Lovett making excellent, in-game adjustments.
Will. The sidelines and players were alive. Something we, as fans and supporters, haven’t seen and criticized our guys for. We saw that last night, with a remainder. They reminded us of the glory days.
And damnit, it felt good.
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