Defying Death Valley

The season is not over for the Miami Hurricanes just yet. Tyrone Moss scored a 25-yard touchdown and freshman safety Ken Phillips came through with a game-sealing interception in the third overtime as No. 13 Miami escaped from Death Valley with a 36-30 victory over No. 20 Clemson on Saturday.

The Hurricanes (1-1) blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter but never lost their swagger in the three overtimes. Moss had a breakout game of sorts, finishing with 139 yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns. Moss told ESPN he is confident he can carry on UM’s tradition of stellar running backs.

“I know I can be the man,” Moss said. “I can get the job done. There was no doubt in my mind.”

With Miami leading 20-10 late in the fourth quarter, Clemson (2-1) quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who completed 31-of- 55 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, scored on a one-yard dive to pull within three points. After a Hurricanes three-and-out, Whitehurst drove Clemson all the way to the 10-yard line, resulting in a game-tying 27-yard field goal by Jad Dean with 15 seconds left.

The Hurricanes did their job in the first overtime, as a 20-yard reception from Sinorice Moss set up a three-yard Tyrone Moss touchdown run. Facing a fourth-andtwo from Miami’s six, Whitehurst connected with Curtis Baham to send the game to a second overtime at 27-27.

The Tigers could only muster a 40- yard Dean field goal in the second extra frame, and when Miami had third-andone from the two on the ensuing possession, it appeared Clemson would fall short. However, Tyrone Moss was stopped at the line of scrimmage on third down, and Head Coach Larry Coker decided to settle for a 19-yard Jon Peattie field goal and a third overtime.

Coker’s decision proved to be fortuitous, as Tyrone Moss broke free for a 25-yard touchdown. Miami’s mandatory two-point conversion attempt (after two overtimes, both teams must go for two) failed, so the Hurricanes had a 36-30 advantage.

After an incomplete pass to start Clemson’s drive, Whitehurst made his first and final critical mistake of the game. An errant throw was picked off by Phillips at the nine-yard line, and the ‘Canes avenged last year’s overtime loss to the Tigers. “Last year they took a piece of grass from our field,” Tyrone Moss told The Miami Herald. “This year we own the whole 100 yards. You can take up that [Tiger] paw and put a U down there.”

Had Miami lost, it would have fallen to 0-2 for the first time in 27 years. Coker told the Herald that his players were uplifted by the win after the team’s dramatic loss to Florida State in the season opener.

“This is a huge, huge win for us,” Coker said. “I’m really proud of our effort in a tough place to play, a tremendous college atmosphere. Our players are excited about getting home.”

Eric Kalis can be contacted at