After an emotional week, marked by the death of teammate Bryan Pata, the Miami Hurricanes took the field trying to focus on the game at hand.
“Physically I think we’re fine. Emotionally, I think it does take a toll,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “How much a factor, I don’t know.”
The game also marked Miami quarterback Kirby Freeman’s first collegiate start. Freeman went 14 of 27 for 140 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
He also picked up 51 yards running the ball but his efforts were undermined by late turnovers, which helped Maryland deal Miami a 14-13 loss.
“I really felt like Bryan Pata would have been proud of the effort our team showed tonight,” Coker said. “I’m very proud of the way they fought back. It says a lot.”
Miami started the game on offense, but after three short yardage plays they were forced three-and-out.
Maryland wasted no time in taking advantage of the situation as quarterback Sam Hollenbach connected with wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 65-yard touchdown, allowing Maryland to take a 7-0 lead.
Miami then looked like they would respond, as Kirby Freeman and running back Javarris James put together three first downs, but the drive came to a halt when kicker Jon Peattie was unable to hit a 50-yard field goal.
After a successful punt two possessions later, Miami was able to pin Maryland on their four-yard line. What looked like a bad situation was quickly turned, when Hollenbach hit Heyward-Bey, in perfect stride, for a 96-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Miami drove for three first downs behind Freeman before ending the drive on a 32-yard Jon Peattie field goal.
Miami was able to make good on their next possession, finishing the drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass by Freeman to wide receiver Ryan Moore.
This was the final big play before the two teams left for halftime with Maryland leading 14-10.
Coming out of halftime, the game started on an unfortunate note, when Maryland offensive guard Donnie Woods was carted off the field with a neck injury.
After the short delay, neither team was able to accomplish much in the third quarter. Besides a few first downs here and there, the teams basically turned the game over to their punters.
The Hurricanes were first to turn that battle into points as Peattie converted a 25-yard field goal attempt to slim the Maryland lead to 14-13. The drive could have ended on a touchdown but freshman wide receiver Ryan Hill, wide open on the play, could not bring in a perfect Freeman pass.
Two Miami possessions later, when the Hurricanes looked like they were getting in position to score, Maryland’s Trey Covington intercepted the football.
Miami’s defense then forced Maryland to go three-and-out but on the ensuing punt, Miami’s Bruce Johnson fumbled, allowing Maryland to run out the clock and secure a 14-13 win.
“I take my hat off to Miami,” Maryland Head Coach Ralph Friedgen said. “They played really well under a very tough situation.”
The loss drops Miami to 5-5 on the season, and it marks the first time since 1985 any one team has beaten both Miami and Florida State.
“I still think we’re a good football team,” Coker said. “I just don’t how much we have left in the tank.”
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.