After a blow-out loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide to open their season, the Hurricane were seeking their first win in their home-opener. With a group–of-five team in the Mountaineers, the Canes hoped for an easier time, but found themselves in a dog fight throughout.
With bad blocking on offense and extremely inconsistent tackling, they struggled to pull away from a team they definitely had more talent than. But on a weekend that saw five ranked teams lose and a few more barely squeak out victories, a win is a win. But Canes fans definitely have a lot to be concerned about moving towards the Michigan State Spartans next week.
Appalachian State is no pushover team, winning at least nine games in the last six seasons. Miami has hopes of an ACC Championship appearance, and even though the Mountaineers aren’t part of the conference, this game would hopefully provide some momentum moving forward into conference play.
Miami-Appalachian State Game
From start to finish, the most important part of the game was the Hurricanes’ special teams. After short drives for each team, Lou Hedley dropped a punt down at the two-yard line. Three plays later, Amari Carter was able to make a diving catch on a tipped Chase Brice pass, giving Miami the ball at the Appalachian State six-yard line.
A few plays later, running back Don Chaney plowed into the end zone for the first score of the game. The Mountaineers were quick to answer though. They would go on a nine-play, 69-yard drive capped off by a Camerun Peoples 28-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
App State would keep D’Eriq King and the Miami offense from doing much on the following possession, giving the ball back to Brice and their offense. A quick three-and-out would lead to a punt-team miscue and a snap over the head of the punter and a safety for the Hurricanes.
Each team would trade punts before Miami went on a 12-play drive that should have been capped off by a Cam’Ron Harris touchdown, but was called back due to illegal formation. Instead, Andres Borregales would hit a 27-yard field goal.
The five-point lead wouldn’t stand long. Jalen Virgil took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Mountaineers their first lead. Borregales would have a field-goal attempt blocked on the next drive. Each team would then trade punts to end the first half with App State leading, 14-12.
The Hurricanes came out of the locker room with their best drive of the game, going 75 yards in six plays. Harris would score this time from 12 yards out to retake the lead for Miami.
The Mountaineers once again answered with a long drive, this time with a Chandler Staton field goal from 22 yards. This was followed up with four consecutive drives ending in punts. But both of the Hurricane punts had Hedley dropping them inside the 13.
Miami’s first drive in the fourth quarter led to another Borregales field goal, extending their lead to 22-17. Brice had his best drive of the game, hitting Malik Williams on a 41-yard pass before finding him wide-open in the end zone for a touchdown to take the lead with five minutes and 48 seconds left in the game. They would miss the two-point conversion and lead by just one point.
Though they were extremely inconsistent all game, the offense put together one more drive. King led the offense on a 10-play drive that went 55 yards. With two minutes and four second left, Borregales hit a career-long field goal from 43 yards to give the Hurricanes a 25-23 lead.
Appalachian State would pick up a few first downs, but was unable to get across midfield before turning the ball over on downs. King was able to run around in the back field long enough to run the remaining time off the clock.
The obvious bright spots in this game were the legs of Hedley and Borregales. Hedley pinned the Mountaineers deep all night. He finished with two punts landing at the two and all six of his punts inside the 20. Borregales made three of his four attempts and both extra points. His only miss was on a blocked attempt that was on the offensive line.
D’Eriq King was solid enough to get the win with 200 yards passing on 20-of-33 passing. What he added the most was his rushing abilities, picking up 79 yards on 19 carries. Harris was also effective running the ball with 91 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts. Harris and the running game was not nearly as efficient as it should be. The offensive line struggled all night in both run blocking, but also pass protection.
Brice had a solid game and made plays when needed. He ended up completing 21 of 34 passes for 199 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Peoples (17 carries, 95 yards, and a touchdown) and Nate Noel (16 carries for 51 yards) each led the way on offense with a strong rushing attack.
Hard Rock Stadium Cat
The game between the teams on the field was intense. But maybe the most interesting part of the game came in the first quarter, but in the stands. A cat fell over the ledge of the upper deck in Hard Rock Stadium and was dangling. Fans below held out an American flag and caught the cat once in fell.
Miami head coach Manny Diaz was asked about the cat post-game. He said “if the cat can help us in the red zone, we’ll give him a scholarship.”
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