Miami football loses second straight heartbreaker 45-42 at North Carolina

Oct 16, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team dug themselves a 28-10 deficit in the second quarter, trailed 31-17 at halftime and their effort to play catch up the entire game fell short in a 45-42 loss at North Carolina. Tyler Van Dyke drove Miami 56 yards in nine plays to put the Hurricanes in field goal range.

Cedric Gray intercepted Van Dyke off a tipped pass on third and four from the North Carolina 16 with six seconds remaining. The pocket collapsed causing the tip and interception. On the postgame show on the ACC Network, former Miami head coach and QB Mark Richt felt Miami should have thrown a fade pattern on the interception.

North Carolina shredded the Miami football team on the ground for the second straight season. Saturday wasn’t as bad, but UNC still ran for 228 yards. North Carolina ran for 554 in a 62-26 victory at Hard Rock Stadium last season. Miami was anemic offensively in the first half for the second straight game.

The Hurricanes had 94 yards of total offense in the first half two weeks ago against Virginia. The Miami football team had 80 yards in total offense in the first half against North Carolina. North Carolina had 275 yards in total offense in the first half.

Miami was able to stay within two scores in the first half in part because of a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive end Jahfari Harvey. Harvey’s return came on the second North Carolina possession and tied the game at seven. Miami came alive in the third quarter.

The Hurricanes outgained the Tar Heels 194-66 and outscored them 17-7 in the third quarter to get back in the game. Miami trailed 38-34 entering the fourth quarter.  The Hurricanes finished the game with a 421-382 advantage in total yards. A three-to-one turnover margin that favored North Carolina made a big difference in the game.

Jaylan Knighton led Miami with 17 carries for 92 yards and two TDs and had a 60 yard TD reception. The 60 yard TD reception by Knighton was reminiscent of the 75 yard TD reception he had in 2020 at Louisville. Van Dyke finished 20-45 for 264 yards with one TD and three interceptions.

Keyshawn Smith had his biggest game at Miami with seven receptions for 75 yards. Knighton became the lead back for Miami after Cam’Ron Harris went out with an apparent knee injury. Keontra Smith returned for Miami at linebacker and had six tackles and two sacks. Miami finished the afternoon with four sacks.

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The Hurricanes fall to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the ACC with the loss. Miami will host North Carolina State next Saturday with a 7:30 kickoff on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. The Wolfpack entered a Saturday night game at Boston College 4-1 overall, 1-0 in the ACC and ranked 23rd nationally.