The Miami Hurricanes overcame a sloppy start to defeat North Carolina State 45-31 in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday thanks to a school-record tying five touchdown passes from quarterback Brock Berlin.
Berlin went 15-for-30 for 265 yards as the Hurricanes (6-0, 3-0) gained 426 total yards against the Wolfpack (4-3, 3-2), who entered the contest as the nation’s best defense.
The senior quarterback’s favorite target was Roscoe Parrish, who caught four passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Tight ends Greg Olsen and Kevin Everett combined for five receptions and 112 yards. Lance Leggett, Sinorice Moss and Quadtrine Hill also had touchdowns.
Parrish told ESPN that the Hurricanes were able to take advantage of a poorly prepared Wolfpack secondary.
“First of all, they came out and played us man,” Parrish said. “You cover any receiver man-to-man all game; it’s like an insult.”
N.C. State was led by running back T.A. McLendon, who rushed for 141 yards on 22 carries. Quarterback Jay Davis went 20-for-38 for 269 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Richard Washington led all receivers with six catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Miami literally wasted no time getting on the board as special teams dynamo Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 100 yards to give the Hurricanes a 7-0 lead before their offense even took the field. The touchdown was Hester’s fourth of the year, tying him with Santana Moss for the team record for kick return touchdowns in a season.
It didn’t take long for the Wolfpack to respond, as Davis connected with Washington on a 17-yard touchdown pass to tie the score. After a successful onside kick, N.C. State took its first lead of the game thanks to a John Deraney 40-yard field goal.
The Hurricanes answered the challenge by mounting an eight play, 71-yard drive resulting in a three-yard Parrish touchdown catch, giving the ‘Canes a 14-10 lead late in the first quarter.
Both offenses stalled until the second quarter, when Davis hit Tramain Hall for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Wolfpack a 17-14 lead. The Hurricanes fought back with a 10 play, 62-yard drive ending in a 10-yard Moss touchdown that was set up by a direct snap to Hill out of a punt formation that gained 28 yards.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Bobby Washington coughed up the ball and Marcus Maxey recovered, giving the Hurricanes the ball on the Wolfpack’s 27-yard line. Berlin wasted no time finding Parrish on the next play to make the score 28-17. Miami had a chance to add more points before the half ended, but Peattie missed a 36-yard field goal attempt.
After a Wolfpack three-and-out to start the second half, the Hurricanes marched down the field on an 11 play, 38-yard drive leading to a 28-yard Peattie field goal. The ‘Canes broke the game open on their next possession, as Hill caught a 10-yard touchdown pass after Parrish gained 24 yards on a reverse.
Neither team scored again until the fourth quarter, when Berlin found Leggett for a 15-yard touchdown on a drive where the quarterback actually gained 11 yards on the ground. The Hurricanes relinquished late receiving touchdowns to Washington and McLendon, but it wasn’t enough as Miami held on for the 45-31 victory.
The offensive line was missing its anchor, Eric Winston, but Berlin was never sacked by the nation’s best defense.
“They came out firing, but I think our guys did a great job of preparing,” Berlin told ESPN after the game.
Head Coach Larry Coker told ESPN that the Wolfpack should hold their collective heads up high for making the game close.
“They’re a very tough football team,” Coker said. “They didn’t disappoint us at all. I know they didn’t win, but they should be very proud of their effort.”
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.