The University of Miami football team entered Saturday’s game against the Duke Blue Devils down by 13. Although the Hurricanes were not down by 13 points, they were down 13 teammates.
Despite this and 120 yards lost in penalties, Miami escaped with a 20-15 victory, lifting their record to 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 5-2 overall.
“We definitely had the refs against us,” quarterback Kyle Wright said. “I think that was pretty evident.”
The game began with the Blue Devils on offense, but it was the Hurricane defense that stole the show and the football, as safety Kenny Phillips intercepted Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis’ third play.
Wright wasted no time, hooking up with wide receiver Sam Shields for an 18-yard touchdown, putting Miami up 7-0.
Two drives later the Hurricane were back in business. Starting at their own 23, Miami quickly moved the ball, behind a 43-yard pass from Wright to Shields. Soon after, a 21-yard field goal by kicker Jon Peattie put Miami up 10-0.
Lewis connected with wide receiver Jomar Wright for a 54-yard pass reception. Four plays later, Jomar Wright fumbled away a pass reception, leading to a 42-yard return by Miami safety Lovon Ponder.
Miami turned the fumble recovery into six points, as Wright’s vision met Sam Shield’s hands for their second touchdown connection.
Miami took this comfortable 17-0 lead into halftime, but the game truly was a tail of two halves.
“We expected to come out and have a big game. It looked like we were well on our way in the first half. Things were going our way,” Wright said. “We were going to come out, pick up where we left off, but it just didn’t happen.”
Miami opened the second half at the mercy of the Duke defense. A bad possession became worse when a botched punt snap turned into a Duke safety, making the score 17-2.
Duke regained the ball looking to try to get back into the game, but Phillips stepped into the way of the drive and pass, recording his second interception.
For the first time in the game, a Duke turnover went empty, as Miami was unable to covert. Corner back John Talley intercepted Wright at the Duke 20.The turnover was Miami’s first of the game, but Phillips would have none of it and answered with his third pick of the game.
Miami’s offense would not settle for coming away empty handed. After Wright was able to connect with wide receiver Lance Leggett for a 46-yard reception, Peattie hit a 51-yard field goal to put Miami up 20-2.
Lewis engineered a fundamentally sound drive, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass to receiver Raphael Chestnut.
Getting the ball back on Miami’s 32, Duke running back Requan Boyette was able to break into the endzone, making the score 20-15.
With 1:22 left on the clock, Duke’s offense was placed on the arm of Lewis. After getting down to the Miami 6-yard line, marked by two big pass plays of 22 and 39 yards, Duke had one last play left in the game.
“We had the game under control but you have to give Duke credit,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “They fought back hard and gave themselves a chance to win.”
With three seconds left on the clock, Lewis attempted to squeeze the ball into a receiver on the left side, but was intercepted by defensive back Willie Cooper.
“They don’t have a big deep, deep threat. They like a lot of option routes,” Cooper said. “So I just sat on it, read the quarterback’s eyes and came up with the pick on the slant.”
Hurricane players suspended for the Duke Game
Carlos Armour, CB
Chris Barney, OT
James Bryant, LB
Tyrone Byrd, OL
DajLeon Farr, TE
Ryan Hill, WR
Bruce Johnson, CB
Charlie Jones, RB
Brandon Meriweather, S
Brian Monroe, P
Derrick Morse, G
Randy Phillips, CB
Anthony Reddick*, S
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.