It truly was the tale of two halves for the Hurricanes in their 24-17 overtime loss to Clemson. In the first half Miami jumped out to a 17-3 lead thanks to 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Frank Gore and 138 passing yards from Brock Berlin. The Hurricanes converted 11 more first downs than the Tigers in the first 30 minutes and out gained them 241 to 156.
In the second half, Clemson stepped up its defensive pressure and Miami was unable to move the ball and put more points on the board. Gore was limited to 22 yards rushing in the second half and left the game for a while with a twisted ankle that does not appear to be serious.
“Well, I think Frank got banged up a little bit…I don’t think we blocked well in the second half. They came out and really caused use some problems in the second half,” Head Coach Larry Coker said.
The Tigers had a complete turnaround on offense after the break, as sophomore Reggie Merriweather gained 63 yards and scored three touchdowns en route to a career-high 114-yard performance. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst became more efficient in the second half as well, finishing with 258 yards passing.
Offensive Tackle Chris Myers said the Hurricanes failed to finish what they started in the first half.
“Once we were up, I think we just got complacent on offense and that has been the case all season-I don’t think we’ve played a complete game this year and that is something we definitely have to correct.”
HESTER SHINES IN LOSS
As teams continue to refuse to kick the ball to special teams dynamo Devin Hester, Coker has tried to put the sophomore in a position to make plays. On Saturday Hester started the game on offense at tailback, defense as a nickel back and as the kick returner, which is obviously unprecedented. His start at nickel back was his first on defense, and he got his second interception of the season in the second quarter. He finished the game with two carries for 12 yards, but was used mostly as a decoy on offense.
WIDE RECEIVERS STEPPING UP
After such a disappointing loss, it is hard to find positives to take to Charlottesville for next week’s game against Virginia. One thing Coker can be pleased about is Berlin’s pass distribution and the play of previously maligned wide outs Darnell Jenkins, Buck Ortega and Akieem Jolla. Jenkins only caught two passes for 17 yards, but he has made several big plays for the Hurricanes throughout the season. Ortega recorded career-highs in receptions (four) and receiving yards (17) after totaling just one catch for nine yards all season. Jolla also had a career night with four catches and 43 yards receiving.
The loss marked the second overtime game of the season for Miami. The Hurricanes defeated Florida State 16-10 in overtime to open the season. Miami is now 2-3 all-time in overtime games…The loss snaps Miami’s 18-game win streak in night games at the Orange Bowl. Its last loss at the Orange Bowl in a night game was on Sept. 19, 1998 against Virginia Tech…With his 35-yard field goal in the first quarter, Jon Peattie moved into seventh-place on UM’s all-time list with 32 field goals passing Chris Dennis, who had 31 field goals from 1974-77.
Eric Kalis can be contacted at email@example.com.