The honeymoon is over in Coral Gables, Florida.
The North Carolina Tar Heels beat the 16th-ranked Miami Hurricanes 20-13 and moved into first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division. The Hurricanes went from No. 10 to unranked in two weeks, the first time since 1968 that the program dropped from the top 10 to out of the rankings so rapidly. North Carolina is likely to return to the poll for the second time this month and third time this season.
On the road, the Tar Heel’s Malik Carney made the defensive play of the game. With less than 1:30 to play and the Hurricanes with the ball at their own 31-yard line driving to potentially tie the game, Carney knocked the ball out of quarterback Brad Kaaya’s hand and Jeremiah Clark recovered it.
“I knew it was wet from the rain, as I approached him I dropped my shoulders coming from around the corner and the ball came free,” Carney stated.
North Carolina converted 14 of its 23 third-down opportunities and now sits atop the ACC’s Coastal Division, a half-game ahead of Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.
The Hurricanes entering last week’s game against FSU were 4-0 with many seeing the undefeated record as a smoke screen to how good the team actually is. They could not afford to fall to an ACC Coastal Division opponent. The Hurricanes were down 20-3 at the half. Coincidently, the 2001 Hurricanes team that won Miami’s last title and arguably the best college team ever assembled were honored at halftime.
Mark Walton rushed for 82 yards and Joe Yearby ran for 74 more and a touchdown for Miami. Leading up to the game, Kaaya was limited in practice with a hurt shoulder suffered from the Florida State game. He completed 16 of 31 passes for 224 yards.
“We need all 11 guys doing the right thing,” said Kaaya. “It starts with me.”
Miami’s defense didn’t allow a point in the second half, including a goal-line stand on the Hurricane 1-yard line to open the fourth quarter. Offensively the play calling was greeted with a series of boos from the Hurricane faithful directed at first-year head coach Mark Richt who also is the offensive coordinator.
“I do think we’re making progress,” Mark Richt stated.
The Tar Heels resume their coastal stretch, going to Virginia next Saturday. The Hurricanes play at Virginia Tech on Thursday night.