Looking to turn the season around, the Hurricanes took their first step in the right direction, as they were able to handle the Tar Heels 27-7 to secure their first Atlantic Coast Conference win.
UNC opened the game on offense, but they were unable to accomplish anything significant on their opening drive.
After the Tar Heel defense pulled the reins in on Miami’s first offense drive, Miami’s defense returned the favor. Defensive end Calais Campbell sacked North Carolina quarterback Cam Sexton, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Tar Heel running back Ronnie McGill.
Getting the ball back, the Miami offense pulled safety Lovon Ponder out of its bag of tricks. On the first play of the drive, quarterback Kyle Wright tossed the ball to Ponder, who was lined up as a halfback. Ponder connected with a wide-open Sam Shields for a 37-yard touchdown pass, putting Miami up 7-0. The touchdown was a first for both Ponder and Shields.
“Everyday in practice I come out and throw the ball around,” Ponder said. “One time I threw the ball maybe 70 yards so coach told me he was going to try to use me.”
Getting the ball back, North Carolina tried a trick play of their own, but the flea flicker was broken up by none other than Ponder himself.
“That was a huge play,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “Ponder came out and did a nice job. He is a football player, and he is normally going to be where he needs to be. ”
Two drives later, Miami would once again put points on the board as a 22-yard grab by true freshman Ryan Hill set up a 39-yard Jon Peattie field goal, making the score 10-0.
On the ensuing possession, two Miami penalties, netting 50 yards, resulted in UNC starting their drive at midfield. This allowed Cam Sexton to go to work on a short field, completing 12 and 37-yard passes. A McGill 2-yard punch in would then make the game 10-7.
On UNC’s next possession, Sexton would be picked off by linebacker Jon Beason, making the first interception grab of his career.
Miami would then march downfield, thanks to 26 and 14-yard catches by Greg Olsen. This set up Charlie Jones for a one-yard touchdown run, allowing Miami to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.
“The past few weeks, I think I was really trying to do too much myself,” Olsen said. “I really didn’t go out there and try to do anything special [today] and just let the game come to me.”
On Miami’s second series of the second half, they blew the floodgates wide open on the back of freshman tailback Javarris James with a 62-yard touchdown run, which put Miami up 24-7.
“He has that ability and gives us that ability to bring a big running attack,” Wright said. “He can provide us with a big explosive run every time he has the ball. We have not had that in the last few years, and he brings us that.”
On the very next possession, Miami’s Randy Phillips would pick off Sexton, recording his first ever interception.
With the ball back, Miami’s offense would see Wright hook up with Olsen for 13 and 14-yard gains, ending on a 40-yard field goal by Jon Peattie.
“I didn’t talk to the coaches at all about my role,” Peattie said. “I know what I have to do and the past couple days I’ve just laid low, working out and getting my confidence back. I’ve really been working on my technique.”
This field goal, which put Miami up 27-7, would be the game’s final score of the day.
“I am very excited about this team. The attitude has been terrific,” Coker said. “We have guys with a lot of energy. If we play with that type of energy, then we’re pretty good.”
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.