Hurricanes Hold Off Orange in Miami
Published on October 23, 2017
Story by Monica Ortiz
Photos by Peyton Zeigler
The Orange offense struggled to keep the ball in the first half. In addition to Dungey’s four interceptions Miami forced two punts. Dungey kept it from potentially becoming worse as, after the first interception he ripped the ball away from the Miami defender Demetrius Johnson, allowing Syracuse to keep the ball with a new set of downs. But that ended in a punt and Miami drove from its own 25-yard line to the Syracuse one before the Orange defense stuffed the Hurricanes, forcing them to take a chip shot field goal and a 3-0 lead.
That’s how it stood as the first quarter ended but Miami (6-0, 4-0 ACC) was driving and finished it off with a 10-yard pass from Malik Rosier, Jr. to tight end Chris Herndon and a 10-0 lead.
Dungey was picked off again and while the defense held Miami to a 39-yard field goal with 10:41 left in the second quarter Miami was up 13-0.
Syracuse drove but when Steve Ishmael was injured as he tried unsuccessfully to hold onto a pass in the end zone, the Orange turned to Murphy, who delivered a 22-yard field goal giving Syracuse a glimpse of hope, trailing 13-3 at the half.
Syracuse stopped Miami’s opening possession and drove to the Hurricanes’ 22-yard line, but passes to Irv Phillips and Steve Ishamel went incomplete and on fourth and five Murphy hit a 40-yard field goal, making it 13-6.
After an exchange of punts, the ‘Canes struck again after Braxton Berrios returned Sterling Hofrichter punt to the UM 47. Two-plays later, Rosier hit Jeff Thomas for a 48-yard touchdown and after the extra point Miami led 20-6.
Syracuse responded with its only touchdown with a six-play, 65-yard drive featuring runs by Dungey of 28 and 14 yards, and capped by a 15-yard burst by Moe Neal into the end zone. Murphy’s kick was good and it was 20-13 in favor of Miami. Twice in the game Dungey tried to hurdle would-be tacklers, crashing into them full-bore.
Fourth quarter: a one-point game
The Syracuse defense stopped Miami and the Orange drove for another Murphy field goal, this one from 45 yards. Miami led 20-16.
The Miami drive stalled after two first downs and Syracuse got the ball back and drove again.
This time the ‘Canes stopped the Orange at the UM 35 and Murphy came back on to the muddy, sloppy field again, this time to try one from 53 yards out.
On the next drive for the Orange, Dungey connected to Devin Butler for 22 yards, giving Syracuse a first down. But on the last SU series, a fourth-down pass to Irv Phillips along the right sideline was ruled incomplete and was short of the first down marker anyway. That put Miami in victory formation to run out the clock.
“We found another way to make it really exciting,” said Miami head coach Mark Richt, whose team stayed unbeaten after a third consecutive close game. “Part of the reason was Syracuse is a really good football team. We’ve seen what they can do, especially last week with Clemson, but everybody that’s played them this year has been just talking about them and how much harder they’re playing now and with a purpose now.
“Not that they didn’t last year, but they’re a better team from what people say, from a year ago. It’s a tribute to what Coach [Dino] Babers is doing over there.”
“Obviously, [they are] a fabulous football team,” Babers said of the Hurricanes. “We had our difficulties shaking some people off in man‐to‐man coverage. Four turnovers in the first half, giving them great field position and putting our defense in a bad situation. Came back and played a better second half of football, but when you’re playing a team like this you got to score touchdowns, not kick field goals if you’re going to beat a team that’s ranked in the top 10.”
“That’s my guy. I’ve never doubted Cole. I always felt he was a great kicker. They were big and they were outside. I was counting on him. We were all counting on him to capitalize.”
Murphy connected on four out of four field goals tries, 22 yards being the shortest. The next three were more than 40 yards, with the longest at 53 in the fourth quarter, putting Syracuse within a point of Miami. Overall Murphy made 12 out of the 19 points for Syracuse.