The look of any given college football game can change on a dime multiple times throughout a contest. That is exactly what happened in a 30-27 Miami Hurricanes loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Indiana.
The momentum was all Notre Dame (3-5) through the first quarter and a half as the team scored the first 20 points of the match, but multiple errors fielding the football cost it the lead, and it looked for a moment that Miami (4-4, 1-3 ACC) may have pulled off the comeback.
However, after taking a 27-20 lead with 6:49 left in the fourth quarter, the Hurricanes could not hold the Fighting Irish offense. Notre Dame running back Josh Adams rushed for a 41-yard touchdown on the very next possession, and after the Fighting Irish stopped the Hurricanes on defense, the team sealed the game on a 23-yard field goal.
The key moment in the contest for Miami came when Notre Dame punt returner C.J. Sanders muffed the catch near the goal line, which was then recovered by redshirt senior defensive back Rayshawn Jenkins in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Canes their first lead of the game. But, the depleted Hurricanes defense could not hold up, allowing back-to-back scores from that point.
Junior quarterback Brad Kaaya had a solid performance after a rough start to the game, finishing with 288 yards on 26 of 42 passing with a touchdown and an interception, but the offensive line struggled mightily once again with both pass and run blocking, allowing five sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
The run game finished with just 18 total yards, compared to 148 from Notre Dame’s rushing attack. Sophomore running back Mark Walton finished the match rushing for 45 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts.
The Hurricanes defense that has been hurt by injuries all season had some good moments during the game, but just did not show the consistency it needed to truly slow down quarterback DeShone Kizer and the Fighting Irish offense. Notre Dame finished with 411 total yards and was five of five in the red zone.
After a poor first half performance that left Miami down 20-7 at halftime, the team came out of the break the right way, showing positive signs in the pass game. The Canes went on a 13 play, 76-yard scoring drive that included multiple sharp pass completions from Kaaya to junior tight end David Njoku and senior wideout Stacy Coley. Walton completed the drive with a one-yard rush for a touchdown to bring the deficit to six. At this point, the Hurricanes had scored 14 unanswered points.
Miami followed the impressive offensive possession by forcing the Notre Dame offense to a three-and-out. The special teams unit then blocked the punt by the Fighting Irish, giving the Canes excellent field position. This led to a 43-yard field goal made my junior kicker Michael Badgley to bring the score to 20-17 Notre Dame with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
The Hurricanes defense continued to ride the momentum in the third quarter, stuffing the Fighting Irish offense on a fourth-and-one pass attempt, leading to another field goal by Badgley at the start of the fourth quarter. The score would be tied at 20 apiece at the 12:30 mark of the final period.
This marks Miami’s fourth straight loss after starting 4-0 on the season.
The team will look to break its losing streak when it faces off against Pittsburgh at home next Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. The kickoff time is to be announced.