Special team miscue, inconsistent offense doom Miami football in Pinstripe Bowl

The Miami football team fell behind early, rallied to take the lead before a special teams miscue turned the game in favor of Rutgers in a 31-24 Pinstripe Bowl loss.
Dec 28, 2023; Bronx, NY, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jacurri Brown (11) is sacked by Rutgers
Dec 28, 2023; Bronx, NY, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jacurri Brown (11) is sacked by Rutgers / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami football team was outgained 115-5 in the first quarter, eventually fell behind 14-0 before rallying and then a special teams miscue doomed the Hurricanes in a 31-24 loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Miami rallied to take a 17-14 lead before a blocked punt by Rutgers turned the momentum.

With Miami leading 17-14 in the third quarter, Trevor Yeboah-Kodie blocked a Dylan Joyce punt and Timmy Ward recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown to give Rutgers a lead they didn't relinquish. Miami had 26 yards on its next three drives after allowing the TD. Miami had a late rally that fell short.

Rutgers had a 13-play, 75-yard drive in 8:06 to open the game and take a 7-0 lead. After a Miami punt, Rutgers drove 36 yards in 10 plays in 4:58 before Jai Patel missed a 53-yard field goal. After Jacurri Brown threw an interception on third down, Rutgers went six plays and 42 yards in 4:14 to extend their lead to 14-0.

The Miami offense woke up after the second Rutgers TD. Brown led a nine play, 75-yard drive in 4:18 to cut the deficit to 14-7. Brown capped the drive with a seven-yard run around the left end. After stopping Rutgers, Miami went eight plays, 75 yards in 45 seconds which was capped by an Andres Borregales 35-yard field goal.

The Borregales field goal came with one second left in the first half. Xavier Restrepo caught a pass in the end zone, but was ruled out of bounds on the play preceding the Borregales field goal. On their first drive of the second half, Miami went eight plays, 69 yards in 4:27 to take their first lead of the game, 17-14.

The teams exchanged punts on the next two possessions. That is when Rutgers blocked the Joyce punt to completely change the momentum of the game. Miami was unable to generate offense on its next three drives. Rutgers added another TD by QB Gavin Wimsatt and Patel kicked a field goal with 2:35 left to extend the lead to 31-17.

Final. 31. 452. Pinstripe Bowl. 24. 2306

Miami went 12 plays, 75 yards in 2:08 to cut the deficit to 31-24 with 27 seconds left. Te'Cory Couch recovered the onside kick to give Miami a chance to tie or win the game. Miami had only nine yards on four plays on the next drive. Restrepo had to come back and was a yard short on fourth down.

Miami was too inconsistent offensively throughout. The Hurricanes outgained Rutgers 202 to 122 in the second half, but the blocked punt was too much to overcome and over a third of those yards came on the last drive with Rutgers playing a soft defense. Miami ultimately put itself in too many positions to lose.

Rutgers finished with 208 yards rushing. Big 10 rushing leader Kyle Monangai thrashed Miami for 163 yards on 25 carries with one TD. Monangai had a critical 40-yard run on the last Rutgers TD drive. Brown finished 21-31 for 181 yards, one TD, one interception and two rushing TDs.

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Restrepo had 11 receptions for 99 yards and a TD. Restrepo set a Miami single season record with 85 receptions and had 1,092 yards and six TDs. The receiving yardage total tied Andre Johnson for the fifth most in Miami history. Expect Restrepo to return next season with a chance to set Miami career-receiving records.