If there was one thing the Canes needed today, it was energy. The team has made its chances to win the Coastal Division of the ACC much harder after suffering a second straight home loss in a 20-13 defeat to the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon.
North Carolina (5-2, 3-1 ACC) got off to a quick start in the first quarter, as Miami (4-2, 1-2 ACC) came out flat and couldn’t find an answer for UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the Tar Heels’ explosive offense. After the Canes’ only promising drive of the first quarter ended with a blocked field goal attempt, the Tar Heels put together a quick scoring drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to wide receiver Austin Proehl.
The Canes came back strong to start the second quarter as they put together a nice 46-yard scoring drive of their own. Junior kicker Michael Badgley converted a 47-yard field goal to get Miami on the board and cut the lead to seven. Junior quarterback Brad Kaaya and the offense had opportunities throughout the rest of the first half, but were unable to take advantage, which left North Carolina with good field position on multiple occasions. The Tar Heels backfield, led by Trubisky and running back T.J. Logan, dominated on the ground in the second quarter and led North Carolina to a 20-3 halftime lead. The half ended with Trubisky’s second touchdown pass of the afternoon in a play where he connected with receiver Ryan Switzer. Miami had to jog to the locker room under a roar of boos from the home crowd after a lackluster 30 minutes of play.
While much of the third quarter was dominated by both defenses, Miami started to show signs of life toward the end of it. Kaaya evaded defenders and found open receivers downfield on two consecutive plays to set the Canes up inside the red zone. Junior running back Joseph Yearby capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run at the 3:38 point of the third quarter, and all of the sudden, the energy seemed to be back in the building. The defense followed it up with an impressive goal-line stand when backed up against its own one-yard line.
The Hurricanes rode this wave of momentum to another field goal drive and cut the Tar Heels’ lead to seven once again. However, that momentum was quickly diminished when UNC recovered Kaaya’s fumble with less than two minutes left in the game.
The team proved that it still has a long way to go. Miami no longer controls its own destiny and will need North Carolina to lose a couple divisional games in order to get back into the ACC Championship Game picture.
Miami now shifts its focus to an improving Virginia Tech football team. The Canes will face off against the Hokies at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Blacksburg, Virginia.