Hurricanes Football: Losing to Georgia Tech was not an option

The Miami Hurricanes football team inducted five legends into their ring of honor Saturday: Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Sean Taylor. Surely the current Miami squad had to be inspired as they would not be denied victory. For a second week in a row the Hurricanes won in dramatic fashion, this time with a last second field goal to beat Georgia Tech 25-24.

In the first half Paul Johnson did his best Forrest Gump impersonation. Ask him the call on first down, “I was running”. Second down, “I was running”. In fact Georgia Tech only attempted two passes in the first half, although one was a three yard touchdown from quarterback TaQuon Marshall to J.J. Green. Johnson was right to stick with the run early as the Yellow Jackets gashed the Miami defense for 172 yards in the first half. Georgia Tech controlled the line of scrimmage and the Hurricanes offense was unable to finish their drives early and had to settle for field goals.

As the first half wore on Miami slowly adjusted to the triple-option and began to hold their ground. The Hurricanes had success of their own on the ground as running back Travis Homer had nine carries for 81 yards in the first half. Miami lost starting running back Mark Walton for the year and now Homer must lead the ‘Canes rushing attack. Homer had a great touchdown catch late in the half to make it 14-13 Georgia Tech going into the locker room.

The Hurricanes tried to capitalize on the momentum to start the second half with an onside kick, and it didn’t go well…

Georgia Tech recovered the ill-advised kick and ran it back for a touchdown, a call that Mark Richt will likely have burned out of the Miami playbook. Down 21-13 Miami was able to move the ball on the ensuing position but ended up having to punt. Georgia Tech once again established the ground game, but also hit a huge 48-yard pass to get into scoring position. The Hurricanes defense tightened up, helped by a huge sack by linebacker Zach McCloud. Georgia Tech had to settle for a field goal and a 24-13 lead with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.

Miami has shown in recent weeks they are a strong team in the second half. Freshman wide receiver Jeff Thomas displayed game breaking speed on his 70-yard bomb from Malik Rosier for the longest play of his young career. Perhaps his kickoff return duties slowed him down just a bit as he couldn’t quite make it to the house. Once again the offense had to settle for a field goal from inside the ten and cut the lead to 24-16. Miami seemed to miss Walton in short yardage situations.

Georgia Tech punted right at the end of the third quarter and Miami took over with a chance to tie the game. Once the fourth quarter hit the Miami skies opened up as a steady rain fell upon Hard Rock Stadium. Rosier was not fazed in the least and led his team right down the field for a score. Homer capped off the drive with a 27-yard touchdown, however the two-point conversion failed and Miami still trailed 24-22. For the day Homer finished with 20 carries and 170 yards rushing, both career highs.

The teams traded punts as the field conditions continued to deteriorate. Georgia Tech seemed to struggle with the footing more than Miami. Rosier and the ‘Canes took over with 8:05 left in the game. Miami was again forced to punt and Georgia Tech took possession and began to work the clock. Miami finally held on a huge third down forcing an incomplete pass to stop the drive and the clock.

Just like last week against FSU, Rosier was in a position to lead a game winning drive. Miami was pinned back inside their ten yard line with 2:30 left possessing all three timeouts. Braxton Berrios has been the best receiver for Miami all year and got them going with two straight catches to get them around the 30.

Miami was able to move methodically with screens and swing passes but was hurt by a huge illegal blocking penalty. With just over a minute Miami held the ball at the Georgia Tech 44.

Mark Richt called timeout with 41 seconds to go facing a 4th and 10.

Then this happened.

 

Darrell Langham is becoming a cult hero in South Florida, imagine if he got more opportunities in the first half. He still managed to lead all receivers with 100 yards. Rosier once again was clutch when it counted going 8 out of 10 for 88 yards on the final drive, setting up a 24 yard chip shot for Michael Badgley to win it. The Miami quarterback is showing poise and the intangibles to be a winner, his calm demeanor under pressure gives his team confidence when it matters most. He finished 23 for 37 with 297 yards and one touchdown.

Mark Richt moves to 15-2 all time against Paul Johnson, the Hurricanes are now sitting at 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. After another huge win Miami could jump into the AP Top Ten this week. Up next Miami hosts Syracuse on October 21st. After beating Clemson on Friday there is no doubt that the Orangemen have Miami’s attention.

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