Miami Hurricanes redzone and third down defense dominates Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26: (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26: (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes defense held Pittsburgh to one touchdown and four field goals in five red-zone trips in a 31-19 victory on Saturday.

Nearly every time Pittsburgh entered the red zone the Miami Hurricanes answered on Saturday. Miami held Pittsburgh to four field goals and one touchdown in five red-zone trips in a 31-19 victory. The Panthers did not get on the scoreboard until 2:43 remained in the first half and added a second field goal with eight seconds remaining.

The four Pittsburgh field goal drives stalled at the 15, six, 17 and 12-yard lines. The Panthers needed an interception return to the Miami Hurricanes one-yard line to set up their only TD. Pittsburgh scored on the next play off a play-action pass from quarterback Joey Yellen to tight end Daniel Moraga to cut the deficit to 21-16.

The Miami defense continued to keep the Hurricanes in the lead throughout the remainder of the game after the Panthers scored the TD. Pittsburgh had 103 yards on their final four drives after scoring their only touchdown. The Panthers ran eight plays in the Miami red zone for a loss of eight yards.

The Hurricanes defense rose to the occasion on critical downs. Miami was stout on third and fourth down too. Pittsburgh was 3-17 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down. Pittsburgh gained 26 yards on the 17 third-down attempts. Two of their conversions came on the first drive of the game which resulted in Pittsburgh punting.

Twelve of the 26 Pittsburgh yards came on third down and 15 on the Panthers final scoring drive of the game. Miami allowed 300 yards to Pittsburgh on 73 plays. The Panthers ran for 22 yards on 26 carries. Miami added nine tackles for loss, three sacks and forced one turnover following a Jared Harrison-Hunte strip-sack.

The Miami defense was dominant on Saturday when they had to be. Pittsburgh averaged 4.11 yards per play. The Panthers had to play without starting quarterback Kenny Pickett. Pickett was out with an injured ankle. Pittsburgh redshirt freshman backup Joey Yellen was 22-46 for 277 yards and one TD.

Davis Bevelle completed his only attempt for one yard at QB for Pittsburgh. Miami entered the game 12th nationally allowing teams to score on only 13 of their 18 trips inside the red zone and 26th allowing TDs on 10 of 13 possessions. Miami was 26th entering Saturday allowing opponents to convert 26 percent on third down.

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If the Miami defense continues to stop opponents on third down and hold them to field goals in the red zone the Hurricanes will put themselves in a position to win. Miami plays Virginia next week. The Cavaliers played Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon.