Saturday sweep for South Florida sports fans

South Florida sports fans had plenty of options on an action packed Saturday. To kick things off the Miami Hurricanes took on Syracuse from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Just up the Turnpike, FAU had their Homecoming game against the University of North Texas from FAU Stadium in Boca Raton. Later in the evening, the Florida Panthers faced off against the Washington Capitals from D.C. Shortly after the Panthers took the ice, the Miami Heat tipped off for their home opener against the Indiana Pacers. By the end of the day these four South Florida Teams would all be victorious.

Miami Hurricanes def. Syracuse Orangemen 27-19

The No. 8 Miami Hurricanes took the field at 3:30PM against the Orangemen confident and prepared, after Syracuse shocked Clemson last week they would not be overlooked. Miami got an early interception from Demetrius Jackson, but Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey ripped the ball out and kept possession. The legendary “Turnover Chain” would not make an appearance yet. Miami would hold and on their first drive march down all the way inside the five, however they could not punch it in as Ahmmon Richards dropped a sure touchdown on a quick slant. The Hurricanes settled for a field goal and an early 3-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.

However it would not be long before the Turnover Chain would appear in glorious fashion.

Miami would cash in on the Michael Jackson interception when Malik Rosier found Christopher Herndon for the touchdown and a 10-0 lead. It was Rosier’s 13th touchdown of the year. Michael Badgley would tack on another field goal to put the ‘Canes up 13-0. When Syracuse took over they finally put together a solid drive, marching 71 yards on 16 plays. The Hurricanes defense bent but didn’t break and held Syracuse to a field goal. Miami’s offense struggled in the second quarter while the defense continued to keep Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey shook.

In the first half Dungey’s stat line was seven completions on 22 attempts for 62 yards and four interceptions. Miami became the first FBS team to record four interceptions in a half this season. The Hurricanes went into the locker room up 13-3 but the game did not feel nearly that close. Miami only had 47 yards rushing in the first half and Rosier was 16 for 24 for 196 yards and a touchdown.

The Hurricanes received the second half kick and quickly picked up the tempo, easily moving the ball into Syracuse territory. Rosier just missed connecting with Braxton Berrios on a long pass and Miami was forced to punt. The second half was sloppy for Miami as Syracuse was able to chip away and move the ball with sustained drives.

Miami got a big boost from Jeff Thomas who took a 48 yard pass to the house and was solid on kickoff returns. Ahmmon Richards has been battling injuries and had several key drops, however he showed great oughness and hung in the game with 99 receiving yards on six receptions. The Hurricanes struggled at times to run the ball but Travis Homer iced the game with a 33 yard scamper in the fourth quarter. Syracuse gave Miami fits in the second half and it was not an exciting game from an offensive standpoint, but the Hurricanes once again proved they can win the tough games and make plays when it counts.

Rosier finished 26 of 43 for 344 yards and two touchdowns, he once again took great care of the football and did not turn it over. He added another 45 yards on the ground and the run/pass option kept Syracuse on their heels for  much of the game. The real key to the win for Miami was their incredible defensive effort, in addition to the four interceptions they also recorded four sacks and nine tackles for loss. Michael Pinckney was all over the field, finishing with nine tackles (six solo) and 2.5 sacks.

FAU Owls def. North Texas Mean Green 69-31

Just after 5:00PM the FAU Owls kicked off Homecoming Weekend against the Mean Green from North Texas. While their counterparts in Miami were rocking the gold chains, the Owls jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to running back Devin Singletary who had both touchdowns.

FAU forced turnovers on consecutive drives in the first quarter and quarterback Jason Driskel was sharp through the air and effective on the ground. Once the Owls got ahead they simply poured in on, leading 41-7 at halftime. When the third quarter got underway FAU continued to show no mercy, adding another 21 points. North Texas was at least competitive in the second half, managing 24 points. FAU was on a roll for a full 60 minutes and completed the blowout by the final score of 69-31. Driskel finished 24 of 35 passing for 357 yards and two touchdowns, he also added another 68 on the ground with another score. The Owls put up an incredible 804 yards of offense, with 447 rushing yards. Singletary led the ground game with 123 yards and had three touchdowns. Willie Wright paced the Owls receiving corps with 141 yards on eight catches with one touchdown.

Florida Panthers def. Washington Capitals 4-1

The Panthers dropped the puck against Washington at 7:30PM on the second night of a back-to-back. Florida lost a tough one at home to the Penguins 4-3, after jumping out to a 2-0 lead the Panthers could not hold on. Again on Saturday the Cats jumped out to a 2-0 advantage, with Evgeni Davodov notching his second goal of the season on the power play with just 30 seconds left in the first period.

The teams would trade goals in the second period and the Panthers would enter the final frame up 3-1. Despite being out-shot 42-23, the Panthers would make the most of their opportunities. Florida was 2 of 6 on the power play, including a 5 on 3 goal by Vincent Trocheck to notch his third of the season.

Washington had numerous chances in the third period but Panthers goalie James Reimer stood tall in net, stopping 41 of 42 shots on goal. Aleksander Barkov sealed the win with an empty net goal for the final margin.

Miami Heat def. Indiana Pacers 112-108

To cap off the day for South Florida sports fans, the Miami Heat opened their home season at the American Airlines Arena at 8PM. After a disappointing season opening loss to Orlando, the Heat looked to bounce back and came out of the gates with much more intensity on defense. Miami found themselves down 31-26 after the first quarter, but turned it up in the second quarter and outscored Indiana 37-19 to take a 63-50 lead into the locker room. Miami had seven blocked shots in the first quarter, including three by starting power forward Jordan Mickey. None were more spectacular this this rejection by Justise Winslow.

In the second half Indiana kept it close and actually outscored Miami 58-49 in the final 24 minutes. The Heat managed to hold off the Pacers due in large part to the solid backcourt play of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters who combined for 42 points. In the season opener against Orlando the duo really struggled to make shots, as did the team in general. The three point shot was falling, after going 8 for 30 from behind the arc in Orlando they hit 14 out of 34 against Indiana. Despite missing leading rebounder Hassan Whiteside the Heat still managed to tie the Pacers with 45 rebounds. Forward James Johnson got the start and contributed 14 points and led the team with eight assists. Dragic paced the Miami scoring with his 23 points, and Kelly Olynyk was solid off the bench with 13 points including three out of five from long distance.

Four games, four wins made it a great day for South Florida sports fans. The Dolphins can make it five for five if they can take care of the New York Jets on Sunday.

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