An ugly win is still a win.
The No. 16 Miami Hurricanes showed why they hold up four fingers for the critical fourth quarter as they rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat Wake Forest, 28-27, at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.
It was a frightening game the Hurricanes (6-2, 3-2) did not need on Halloween.
“It was a kind of scary win,” said sophomore wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who caught a diving, game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:08 left. “But a win is a win. It doesn’t matter if it’s one point, two points or 80 points.”
Benjamin’s touchdown never would have happened if it weren’t for a catch two plays before. Facing a fourth and 16, sophomore wide receiver Aldarius Johnson came up with a leaping 25-yard reception, the biggest play of the winning drive.
“I already knew Jacory was going to come to me,” said Johnson, who caught three passes for 74 yards and collected his first touchdown of the season. “I just knew I had to make the play because [we were desperate].”
It wasn’t Harris’s best day, but he did his part in engineering the final drive. Harris and the Canes were resilient in the fourth quarter. The sophomore quarterback finished 22-for-43 with 330 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“It was a tough one, you’ve got to give it to Wake Forest,” said Harris, who led the Hurricanes to a similar comeback win last year at Virginia. “It just happened that we came out with the victory.”
Head coach Randy Shannon praised Harris for leading the team down the field in the final minutes of the game.
“He did a great job of marching it down the field,” Shannon said. “The march was unbelievable.”
Heading into the final drive, the Canes offense accounted for just 10 total yards in the second half.
“This football team does not quit,” Shannon said. “Three years ago when I became head coach, we would get down and the game would be over with. Slowly the culture is changing, developing. We believed in what we can get done.”
Two players that helped Miami with the rally were junior defensive lineman Allen Bailey and junior kicker Matt Bosher.
Bailey picked up two sacks, which was his second straight multi-sack game. He is tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in sacks with seven and tied for fourth with 9.5 tackles for loss.
Bosher continues to stop opponents from returning punts as he prevented the Demon Deacons (4-5, 2-3) from having great field position. Out of nine punts, four were inside the 20-yard line. He averaged 43 yards and now ranks second in the ACC in punting.
One huge problem was the pass defense of the Canes. The defense gave up 555 yards to Wake Forest, 408 yards of which came through the air. It was the third-most passing yards ever against Miami.
The Canes got lucky this past weekend as Wake Forest’s fourth-year starting senior quarterback Riley Skinner left the game with a head injury. Redshirt senior walk-on Ryan McManus replaced the veteran with 8:03 left in the fourth quarter.
Miami was also helped out by former Hurricanes coach Butch Davis as his North Carolina Tar Heels shocked then-No. 14 Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium, 20-17, Thursday night. Miami needs a Georgia Tech conference loss to control its own destiny. The Yellow Jackets face two weak teams in Duke and Wake Forest.
The Canes return to Land Shark Stadium for their homecoming game against Virginia (3-5, 2-2) at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at email@example.com