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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Early on Saturday against North Carolina, the Miami Hurricanes seemed to be following a similar script to their last home outing.
There was a double-digit first half deficit. There were two 90-plus-yard drives by the opposition, buoyed by long completions.
Yet this time the Canes were resilient, undeterred and continued to fight back. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was terrific, throwing for nearly 500 yards and three scores. Tight end Will Mallory had a career day, catching eight passes for 115 yards. Miami’s defense picked off UNC quarterback Drake Maye twice and sacked him five times. And the Canes got the ball back in the game’s final minute with a chance to tie or win the game.
But one last throw by Van Dyke was intercepted deep in North Carolina territory and the Tar Heels held on for a 27-24 win before a crowd of 53,751 at Hard Rock Stadium.
UNC improved to 5-1, 2-0 in ACC play, while Miami fell to 2-3 after dropping its conference opener.
“We came up short,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “It’s disappointing. We played hard, showed resiliency, good responses. Critical errors, obviously, typically tell the tale of a game like this.
“Proud of the effort. You saw it. Guys were grinding. They kept coming, no matter what. They really had the right attitude and the right mentality.”
Van Dyke completed 42 of 57 passes for 496 yards, setting the school record for completions and attempts. His 496 passing yards are second only to Stephen Morris’ 566 against NC State in 2012. His 42 completions are the most by an ACC quarterback since NC State’s Ryan Finley had 45 in 2017.
Van Dyke threw scoring strikes to wide receiver Key’Shawn Smith (20 yards), running back Henry Parrish, Jr. (7) and wide receiver Colbie Young (16). Wide receiver Frank Ladson, Jr. tied Mallory for the team lead with eight catches. Defensive lineman Darrell Jackson, Jr., was a menace up front, amassing seven tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Lineback Keontra Smith and safety Kamren Kinchens each picked off Maye, who entered Saturday with just one interception through his first five games.
Miami ran 80 plays but again struggled to rush the ball, managing just 41 yards against a UNC defense that entered the game ranked 113th in the nation in rushing defense. And while the Tar Heels were 7 of 14 on third down, the Canes converted just 5 of 14.
“We’re out of sync in the run game,” Cristobal said. “It’s not a matter of effort but we’ve got to do a better job.
“We’ve got to continue to work on issues that are preventing us form being really good.”