The message was clear for the No. 22 Miami Hurricanes. Playing with pride and energy and having fun would get them the win over North Carolina. This weekend, the Canes accomplished that mission and did it with style.
No longer will there be talks of Shannon not being able to beat UNC head coach Butch Davis because on Saturday, Shannon got his first win against the former UM head coach.
The Hurricanes scored 30 straight points to beat the Tar Heels, 33-10, at Sun Life Stadium.
“This was a big win for us,” Shannon said. “It was a big victory for myself. Being 0-3 playing against North Carolina, being able to respond the way we did tonight was unbelievable. It’s the first time I’ve beat North Carolina.”
North Carolina had an opportunity to spoil the Canes’ night early in the game. With a chance to go up to a double-digit game in the first quarter, UNC senior running back Anthony Elzy was two yards away from scoring but junior linebacker Sean Spence smacked Elzy, jarring the ball loosing while redshirt sophomore Vaughn Telemaque dove for the fumble recovery.
When Telemaque came to the sideline, Shannon greeted Telemaque with a jumping side bump. Shannon knew it was a critical play for his team. The Hurricanes were on fire, and they owned and controlled the Tar Heels.
On defensive third downs, the Canes had a buzz about themselves. Dancing, head bobbing and high-fiving put their swag on another level. The Hurricanes had a wipe-me-down style about themselves.
North Carolina was only two of 12 on third downs including an interception by junior cornerback Brandon Harris.
“When we play like this, we play at our best,” Harris said. “When Travis [Benjamin] scored, Shannon ran on the field, was chest-bumping guys. This game was bigger than just us. We wanted to win not for just us, but for the former Canes and coach Shannon.”
Making his last appearance against North Carolina, senior captain Allen Bailey had a showing-out party simply by using his power rushes. A humble Bailey had a career-high 3.5 sacks. Heading into the game, he had three sacks the entire year.
“We talked all week about having fun, it showed out there,” Bailey said. “When we’re having fun we make big plays, win big.”
Junior captain Jacory Harris’ 24-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin in the third quarter allowed Harris to beat Vinny Testaverde and Steve Walsh for the sole possession of second all-time in school history in touchdown passes.
Also, senior running back Damien Berry became the fourth Hurricane since 1975 to record four-straight 100-yard rushing games joining former Canes, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James.
During the Canes’ 30-0 scoring run, Shannon spent his time chest-bumping, shaking hands, and high fiving his players and coaching staff. Shannon felt the vibe that night.
“There was an emphasis on having fun,” said junior wide receiver LaRon Byrd who reveled in the Hurricanes’ first touchdown against the Tar Heels. “We were a little tense early on the season, but not tonight. We let loose and it came through. It was good to see coach Shannon smiling.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.