Heartbreaking. That is the best way to describe the No. 10-ranked Miami Hurricanes’ 20-19 loss to the No. 23-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
The 65,685 fans in attendance erupted after an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Brad Kaaya to senior wide receiver Stacy Coley on fourth down to bring Miami within one at the 1:38 mark of the fourth quarter. Junior kicker Michael Badgley lined up for the standard extra point to tie the game. That’s when the crowd went silent. Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker blocked the seemingly routine kick, sending the stadium into complete shock. The Seminoles would run out the clock from there to ultimately end the game.
It was the tale of two halves for the Hurricanes. After outplaying the Seminoles in just about every way in the first half, the Canes went flat in a scoreless second half. Players from both teams were jawing at each other from the moment the coin was tossed, but it turned out that Florida State was better prepared for the longevity of the game.
Sophomore defensive back Jaquan Johnson intercepted backup Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire in the red zone with 9:22 left in the second quarter. That led to a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive by Miami that took 3:42. The score was off a pinpoint 21-yard pass from Kaaya to Coley on third down.
In the first half, the Canes’ defense did exactly what it had to do to give the team a win. It didn’t allow Seminoles star running back Dalvin Cook, who came in with a total of 379 yards and five touchdowns against Miami in his career, to get any rhythm. The defense also put constant pressure on FSU quarterback Deondre Francois, who couldn’t find any momentum in or out of the pocket for the entire half. UM went into halftime with a 13-3 lead and showing positive signs on both sides of the ball.
The second half was a completely different story. Francois began to find holes, most notably on pass to a wide open Cook on a broken coverage in the secondary for a 59-yard touchdown catch-and-run to make the score 13-10 at the 8:06 mark of the third quarter. With the Hurricanes’ offense stagnating, the Seminoles got the ball right back and marched the ball down the field the next possession, leading to a 20-yard touchdown throw from Francois to receiver Kermit Whitfield.
In the third and fourth quarters, Miami could no longer find the spark that it had in the first two quarters. Kaaya got little time in the pocket to throw the football and struggled to find open receivers. He finished with 214 yards on 19-32 passing with two touchdowns to one interception.
The defense ran out of gas as the game went on. After limiting the big plays in the first half, it let Florida State get quite a few of them in the second half. The defense missed tackles on Cook and allowed Francois to make plays out of the pocket, two things the team couldn’t do if it wanted to win.
The Hurricanes will look to rebound from this tough loss in a home matchup against North Carolina on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium.