Hurricanes dominate with defense and special teams
Chestnut Hill, Mass. – While Hurricane Isabel didn’t reach far enough north to affect the New England area, the No. 2 Miami football squad brought their own storm, directly hitting the campus of Boston College in their last Big East visit to Chestnut Hill.
Ignoring the jam-packed Eagle crowd at Alumni Stadium, the Hurricane defense and special teams led Miami to a 33-14 victory over BC, extending its nation-best regular season winning streak to 36 games in a row.
A Roscoe Parrish punt return for a TD and Sean Taylor interception return for a score overshadowed the lack of consistency by the UM offense. Miami scored 26 points off of its defense and special teams, while the offense only managed one sustained drive of over 50 yards. Another low point for the ‘Canes were their mental errors. Miami committed 11 penalties for 95 yards.
“It was a very good win for us, and obviously I’ll say that but for us it was a little bit of a frustrating win because there were still too many errors,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “We really never got into a regular offense, but our defense was outstanding and our special teams were truly special tonight.”
UM quarterback Brock Berlin finished 18-of-30 passing for 151 yards and no touchdowns, while tailback Frank Gore managed 74 yards on 16 carries. The defense was the bright spot, as UM held the Eagles to only 213 yards of total offense.
“We are just not merged as the offensive team that I visualized yet…I think it’s there, we as coaches and players just have to get it done,” Coker said.
Miami started the game with a slight scare by allowing an 18-yard reception by BC wide out Grant Adams on the first offensive play of the game. However, the Hurricane defense responded and forced an Eagles punt that resulted in a UM record 92-yard punt return for a touchdown by Parrish.
“I saw a seam and took it right down the sideline,” Parrish said. “I did break a couple of tackles but my speed got me the score. Special teams are vital to winning and we proved that tonight.”
The ‘Canes would proceed to get favorable field position on their next possession. With 6:33 left in the first quarter, a BC muffed punt gave UM the ball at the BC 29-yard line. A miraculous 17-yard leaping catch over two BC defenders by Winslow set up a one-yard TD run by Gore to give UM a 14-0 lead with 4:44 remaining.
BC got the ball back and moved the ball down the field thanks to a couple of UM mistakes – an offside penalty and a Vince Wilfork late hit gave the Eagles the ball at the 50-yard line. Derrick Knight proceeded with a 13-yard run to the Miami 37. Just when momentum seemed to shift in favor of BC, Eagles second string quarterback Paul Pederson entered the game and threw an interception directly to Sean Taylor (third of season) who ran untouched for a 67-yard touchdown to put UM up three touchdowns with 11:44 left in the first half. John Peattie added a 32-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the first half to put Miami on top 24-0.
“We as a defense want to make plays to help our team win games,” UM defensive back Al Marshall said after intercepting his second pass of the season in the fourth quarter. “We don’t want to have to rely only on the offense to win games.”
BC proceeded to march down the field with less than a minute left in the first half thanks in part to a UM personal foul and a 22-yard run by quarterback Quinton Porter. However, Eagles kicker Sandro Sciortino failed to connect on a 45-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half.
The second half was much of the same for BC. After forcing Miami to punt on the first possession, the Eagles went three and out. On the BC punt attempt, the snap sailed over the head of punter Jeff Gomulinski and out of the end zone to give the ‘Canes a safety and a 26-0 lead. On the subsequent Miami drive, a Jarrett Payton five-yard TD run capped off a seven play, 62 yard drive, widening the BC to deficit to 33 points.
“I think we as an offense know what we can do and know we can play well together,” Berlin said.
BC finally got on the scoreboard with a five-yard touchdown run by Derrick Knight with 11:28 left in the game. The score came after the two teams traded interceptions. The fourth quarter began with a BC drive into the UM red zone, but the Hurricane defense stepped up once again, this time with a Marshall interception in the end zone. However, Berlin and the offense continued their struggles, as BC defensive back Peter Shean picked off a Berlin third down pass, leading to the Knight score.
Backup Eagle running back Horace Dodd added a four-yard TD run with 38 seconds left in the contest, cutting the Hurricane lead to 33-14. Miami received the ensuing kick and took a knee to end the game.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.