‘CANES rally to beat Louisville
Berlin leads team to come-from-behind victory
Brock Berlin and the Miami Hurricanes seem to be at their best when faced with dire circumstances.
Berlin completed 25-of-37 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns and sophomore Devin Hester returned his third punt for a touchdown this season as the No. 3 Hurricanes (5-0) rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 17 Louisville (4-1) 41-38 in front of 63,715 fans at the Orange Bowl.
Miami was trailing 38-34 with under a minute left in the game when Frank Gore scored a one-yard touchdown that was set up by a clutch fourth-down catch by Darnell Jenkins, who caught seven passes for 68 yards. The Cardinals had a chance to win the game on the final play, but Brian Brohm’s hail Mary attempt was intercepted by Antrel Rolle, preserving the victory for the ‘Canes.
Brohm had entered the game in the fourth quarter in place of starting quarterback Stefan LeFors, who had completed 17-of-22 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns in about three quarters of work before getting a concussion. Running back Lionel Gates led Louisville with 109 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.
Berlin said the victory was further proof that Miami can come back from any deficit because of its heart and guile.
“What a great victory for us and our team,” Berlin said. “Like I said, we’ve been here before in this situation and again we proved what type of character our team has.”
The Hurricanes enjoyed an early 7-0 lead in this game after Berlin found tight end Greg Olsen for a nine-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, his first as a ‘Cane. Olsen finished with three catches for 89 yards.
Louisville wasted no time in responding to Miami’s early score by marching down the field in a nine-play, 84-yard drive highlighted by Gates’ one-yard touchdown to tie the score. Two plays later, Berlin’s pass was picked off by Kerry Rhodes, which led to an Arthur Carmody field goal to give the Cardinals a 10-7 lead.
After a Hurricane three-and-out, Louisville mounted another long drive which ended in a 12-yard Tiger Jones touchdown reception, making the score 17-7 with 10:03 left in the first half.
Both offenses stalled until the end of the second quarter, when LeFors found Gates for a 17-yard touchdown to make the score 24-7 at halftime, marking the largest deficit of the season for the Hurricanes.
Head Coach Larry Coker said that his team’s slow start was caused by tremendous offensive game planning by Louisville.
“We played a good football team tonight,” Coker said. “We knew they were an extremely well-coached and good offensive football team.”
The Hurricanes wasted no time in responding on their first possession of the second half, as Berlin connected with Roscoe Parrish for a 14-yard touchdown to cut their deficit to 10. It appeared that Miami was going to get the ball back with a chance to make it a one possession game until Louisville decided to fake punt, giving the ball to Eric Shelton, who scampered for a 39-yard gain. LeFors hit Jones for a 22-yard touchdown three plays later to push the Cardinals’ lead back to 17 points.
The Hurricanes fought back once again as Berlin found seldom-used wide receiver Akieem Jolla for an 11-yard touchdown to make the score 31-21 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
After forcing a Louisville three-and-out, Jon Peattie kicked a 24-yard field goal to make it a one touchdown game. Peattie would add another field goal moments later to cut the ‘Canes’ deficit to four points.
Miami stopped Louisville on its next drive, forcing Brent Moody to punt to Hester, who caused the crowd to erupt by returning it 78 yards to give the Hurricanes their first lead since the first quarter.
Just when Miami thought it had the game won, Brohm led his team right down the field for another touchdown and the Cardinals regained a four-point lead at 38-34 with 4:30 minutes left, setting the stage for another dramatic game-winning drive for the Hurricanes.
Berlin was at his best in the final drive, finding Lance Leggett for 26 yards on third-and-10 and Jenkins for five yards on fourth-and-four before Gore clinched the victory for the Hurricanes with his one-yard plunge.
Coker said that his team did not falter despite being faced with a large halftime deficit.
“We came back in the second half and the guys didn’t flinch,” Coker said. “They didn’t give up…I was very proud of their efforts. They really, really fought to the end.”
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.