From 33 yards out, kicker Andres Borregales looked at the heart of the uprights.
Silence gripped Hard Rock Stadium. The freshman swung his right leg through the ball.
Borregales’ game-winning field goal attempt deflected off the left post. The night’s final and longest drive ended without a score as Miami suffered a heartbreaking 30-28 loss to Virginia to begin conference play on Thursday.
“There is a lot of hurt in that locker room right now. It was a game of missed opportunities,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “Our guys believe though and that was on the verge of being something remarkable with what this team has gone through.”
As the first half ended, the Hurricanes (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) had totaled hardly 90 yards of offense, trailing 19-7. Backup quarterback Tyler Van Dyke opened the second start of his UM career 4-for-11 with 63 passing yards.
“I have to give credit to the offense, they really kept me up when things weren’t going well,” Van Dyke said. “They told me to keep my head up and I just went out there and made plays in the second half.
Miami’s offense grappled to sustain drives through the four-minute mark of the second quarter. Each of the first five drives stopped at the Virginia 46-yard line or further, including a safety that granted the Cavaliers (3-2, 1-0 ACC) an early 9-0 advantage.
“Obviously, we started slowly and allowed them to take control of the game,” Diaz said. “I think, at one point, snaps were 35 to 11. We had a hard time getting a rhythm. We had a hard time running the football. We had a hard time protecting our quarterback.”
Averaging 3.4 yards per play, Miami lacked momentum downfield and risked a scoreless first half. Junior running back Cam’Ron Harris received a handoff and leaped over the goal line for the Hurricanes’ first touchdown, slicing the deficit to 9-7.
Virginia didn’t waste the half’s closing minute, nonetheless. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong relied on sophomore running back Mike Hollins to carve from the right hashmark toward the sideline and dive into the right pylon.
The Hurricanes’ defensive tackling lapses became once again apparent, and Virginia kicker Brendan Farrell’s 43-yard field goal padded the Cavaliers’ third-quarter lead, 19-7. Miami’s defense experienced trouble stopping Virginia’s six successful third down conversions in the period.
“We were getting pressure on the quarterback early on and we wanted to stop the immediately available passes, the quick game, so the main adjustment was playing more man coverage; allowing those guys to stick their receivers so that we could allow our rush to get there,” redshirt senior defensive end Zach McCloud said. “I think, in general, we generated more pressure as a defense in the second half.”
Miami managed to find a slight spark on its next drive. Van Dyke lofted a pass on third-and-8 into the back left corner of the end zone for senior wide receiver Mike Harley, breaking UM’s drought of seven consecutive failures in third down situations.
Armstrong answered, firing a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks. The ball bobbled off the 6-foot-1 sophomore multiple times before Wicks secured it with his right hand to create a 27-14 difference.
Virginia’s four-minute scoring push culminated in a successful 2-point conversion, yet the Van Dyke-led turned to a different attack. Harris fueled UM’s running game on a 57-yard rushing touchdown for his second score of the game, reviving the Hurricanes faithful.
And six minutes into the fourth, backup quarterback Tyler Van Dyke sustained the on-ground attack. The freshman of Glastonbury, Connecticut, scrambled out of the pocket and darted down the right sideline for 24 yards, as the Hard Rock Stadium crowd erupted.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. I started out slow and it was really fast out there,” Van Dyke said. “I came back in the second half a lot more confident and saw things better. I’m proud of the team and proud of how we fought on both sides of the ball, and we’re going to keep fighting.”
The primetime showdown became a new contest after Miami’s offense and Virginia’s defense each sputtered.
Despite starting on its own 9-yard line, UM intended to run the clock down. Stationed at the Miami 34-yard line on third-and-14, Van Dyke found wide receiver Charleston Rambo for a 16-yard completion on the right hashmark.
The Cavaliers’ defense forced Van Dyke to lose two yards, placing the ball at the 16-yard marker. Diaz signaled for a time out with three seconds remaining and the 30-28 deficit, prior to Borregales’ missed attempt.
“We were just trying to go down there and set up the ball for Andy,” Van Dyke said. “I thought we were in a good position to win the game right there. I had a lot of faith in Andy. He’s going to make a lot of big kicks for Miami, so no one should be disappointed in him.”
Van Dyke completed 15 of 29 attempts, while Harris paced the Hurricanes’ rushing attack with 111 yards. Rambo secured five receptions for 99 receiving yards. UM capitalized on 138 rushing yards in the second half, improving from 31 before halftime.
Closing their second loss in a four-game homestand, the Hurricanes travel to Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Saturday, Oct. 16, for a rematch with North Carolina after a 62-26 catastrophe in Miami Gardens last December. A kickoff time remains to be announced.