The University of Miami (6-6, 3-5) won its final game of the regular season on Thanksgiving night, 17-14 over No. 18 Boston College (9-3, 5-3) at the Orange Bowl.
“I knew that we were going to play with energy,” Coker said. “I think this group wanted to win this football game. We’ve been on the road a couple of weeks and lost some close games. They wanted to win the last game for the seniors.”
The Hurricane players had another motivation to win the game. This was the first home game since teammate Bryan Pata was murdered outside of his Kendall apartment on Nov. 7.
In an emotional scene after the game, a banner that had an airbrushed picture of Pata was taken out of the stands by some Miami players and brought to midfield where the team centered around and prayed.
The game itself was close throughout. Miami took a 17-14 lead on a Javarris James two-yard rush with 7:09 left in the third quarter. Consecutive passes of 28 and 30 yards by quarterback Kirby Freeman to Ryan Moore and Greg Olsen respectively, set up the run by getting the ‘Canes down to the one-yard line.
The Eagles tried to answer two drives later but were stalled when BC quarterback Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass to Kevin Challenger on fourth and eight to return the ball to Miami on their own 32-yard line.
Both teams were unable to get much done offensively throughout the rest of the second half, until Boston College put together one final drive at the end of the game.
Ryan hit AJ Brooks on a 21-yard pass to move BC midfield on the opening play of the drive. On the next play, however, Ryan was picked off by junior cornerback Glenn Sharpe to ensure the win for Miami.
“I read the play pretty well and stayed with the receiver,” Sharpe said. “I knew immediately that I was going to make a play, especially if the quarterback didn’t see me. He put it up there and I was lucky enough to come down with it.”
Freeman, who threw 13-26 for 181 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, led the Hurricanes offensively.
Defensively, Miami held Boston College to 197 total net yards on 67 plays, or 2.9 yards per play. Defensive lineman Kareem Brown led the ‘Canes with two sacks. Sophomore Calais Campbell and linebacker Jon Beason contributed one sack each.
“This win was a total team effort,” Beason said. “We came out fired up and did what we had to do. You can’t come into a game worrying about what’s at stake, you just have to go out there and execute. We just went out there and gave everything we had.”
Denis Brown may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.