On a night where the highlight was a cat falling from the upper deck of Hard Rock Stadium, the No. 22 Miami Hurricanes avoided an upset with a narrow 25-23 win over the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
“I’m proud of our team,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “I’m proud of our resiliency.”
Miami got off to a fast start, as senior safety Amari Carter intercepted a tipped pass from Mountaineers quarterback Chase Brice early in the first quarter. Freshman running back Don Chaney Jr. ran the ball into the end zone three plays later to give the Hurricanes an early 7-0 lead.
Chaney Jr. and sophomore linebacker Keontra Smith left the game early with apparent lower extremity injuries.
“Neither initial prognosis was good,” Diaz said when asked about the status of these injuries. “They are big losses for our team.”
The rest of the game was a chess match, with both teams exchanging blows throughout. Running back Cameron Peoples scored the first touchdown for the Mountaineers, a 28-yard run, before App State wide receiver Jalen Virgil rushed 100 yards for a kick return following freshman kicker Andres Borregales’ first of three field goals.
Borregales ultimately threw the last punch, nailing a 43-yard field goal to put the Hurricanes ahead 25-23 with barely two minutes left in the game.
“I just went out there and banged it through,” Borregales said.
Senior quarterback D’Eriq King completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 200 yards in the air and 79 on the ground. King did not throw for a touchdown.
“Offensively, we have to play a lot better, we have to make a lot more plays,” King said. “We got a win, so that’s always a positive. You’re not going to complete every single pass and obviously you don’t want to start off 3-for-8, but we found a way to win.”
Miami junior running back Cam’Ron Harris led the Hurricanes in rushing with 91 yards on 18 carries.
“It’s a great win that we had,” Harris said. “That was a great team that we played.”
Peoples led the Mountaineers’ rushing attack with 95 yards on 17 carries. Peoples’ 28-yard rushing touchdown leveled the contest ahead of the five-minute mark in the first quarter.
“I feel like there’s always room for improvement,” junior defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera said when asked about Miami’s run defense after two games. “We’ll go in and delve into that film tomorrow, watch what we need to correct, watch what we did well and we’ll just go from there.”
Thanks in part to the contributions made by Silvera and sophomore cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, who finished the game with three passes defended, the Hurricanes were able to limit the Mountaineers to only 326 total yards.
On the now famous falling cat, Diaz said that “if the cat will help us with our red-zone offense, I’m going to see if we can give it a scholarship.”
The Hurricanes will continue their four-game homestand next Saturday, Sept. against Michigan State. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.