7:30 PM ET, October 23, 2010
Sun Life Stadium, MIAMI, FL
MIAMI -- Sean Spence and Brandon Harris danced toward the sideline in such exaggerated celebration that they drew a penalty. Randy Shannon chest-bumped 310-pound left tackle Orlando Franklin. Allen Bailey shook his fist and screamed at no one in particular.
No, it wasn't the old days of bad-boy Miami football.
But the Hurricanes showed plenty of fire -- and got a win that saved their Atlantic Coast Conference title hopes.
Jacory Harris threw three touchdown passes to move into second place on Miami's career list, Damien Berry ran for his fourth straight game of 100-plus yards and the 25th-ranked Hurricanes scored the game's last 30 points to easily beat North Carolina 33-10 on Saturday night.
"They challenged each other to step up and make plays," said Shannon, the Miami coach who beat North Carolina for the first time in four tries. "I think that's one thing about this football team -- guys are starting to develop a mentality of what we're trying to get done. The great teams and the great players step up and challenge each player."
Berry finished with 109 yards and a touchdown for the Hurricanes (5-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin and Leonard Hankerson had touchdown catches for Miami and Spence forced a key fumble in the opening quarter to deny North Carolina a touchdown.
Johnny White had a 76-yard touchdown run for North Carolina (4-3, 2-2), the longest carry for the Tar Heels in more than nine years. White's score gave North Carolina a 10-3 lead in the second quarter, before Miami took over and denied the Tar Heels' bid for their first five-game winning streak since 2001.
"We never got a good handle on the running game," North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. "They kept us off-balance with the run and the play-action pass. They played well."
Jacory Harris completed 21 of 32 passes for 217 yards for Miami. T.J. Yates was 12 of 21 for 140 yards and two interceptions for North Carolina, which got 85 yards from White and 71 more from Shaun Draughn.
Miami sacked Yates five times, a season-worst for North Carolina -- with Bailey getting credited for 3½ of them.
"The formula when you play against Miami is you don't want to play from behind," Davis said. "They've got some great defensive linemen who can put pressure on your quarterback."
Miami had lost to North Carolina in each of the past three seasons, and picked a good time to finally end that streak. The win moved the Hurricanes into outright possession of second place in the Coastal Division, a game behind Virginia Tech -- while everyone else in the division now has at least two conference losses.
"We control our own destiny," Brandon Harris said. "We know that."
Jacory Harris increased his career total to 50 TD passes. He came into Saturday tied for fourth on the career list with Gino Torretta, then passed Vinny Testaverde and Steve Walsh (both of whom had 48) when Benjamin made an acrobatic play for a score early in the third quarter. Benjamin leaped for a catch while getting hit, never going to the ground, then spun and ran into the end zone.
From there, the Hurricanes started to roll.
Yates came into the night leading the nation in lowest interception percentage; his streak of 95 straight passes without getting picked off ended when Miami's Brandon Harris had a takeaway to end the ensuing Tar Heels' drive.
Yates threw another interception to Ramon Buchanan early in the fourth, and Berry plunged in from 2 yards out seven plays later to wrap things up for Miami.
"Big win," Spence said. "Very important win."
North Carolina struck first, settling for a 19-yard field goal from Casey Barth on its opening drive even though Yates had completions of 34 and 26 yards on consecutive plays. And when Jacory Harris was intercepted by Da'Norris Searcy on the first play of Miami's ensuing drive, the Hurricanes seemed to be reeling.
Davis apparently sensed the same, and a fourth-down sneak by Yates gave North Carolina a first down at the Miami 9. Yates connected on the next play with Anthony Elzy, who appeared to be headed toward a score -- until Spence knocked the ball free, Vaughn Telemaque caught the carom in the end zone, and Miami escaped unscathed.
"Definitely changed the momentum," Shannon said.
White made at least a half-dozen Miami defenders miss while breaking loose on the long touchdown run that was North Carolina's longest carry since Sept. 1, 2001, a span of 4,054 carries according to STATS LLC.
But Byrd's 6-yard touchdown catch gave Miami a 13-10 lead at intermission, and the Hurricanes controlled the second half.
"When we forced that fumble in the end zone and covered it, that changed the whole demeanor of the game," Brandon Harris said. "It stopped the game from turning in the wrong direction for us."
And probably the season, too.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-12||6-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||3-3|
|FG||05:15||Casey Barth 19 Yd||3||0|
|FG||14:16||Matt Bosher 38 Yd||3||3|
|TD||13:51||Johnny White 76 Yd Run (Casey Barth Kick)||10||3|
|FG||10:23||Matt Bosher 34 Yd||10||6|
|TD||05:30||LaRon Byrd 6 Yd Pass From Jacory Harris (Matt Bosher Kick)||10||13|
|TD||10:01||Travis Benjamin 24 Yd Pass From Jacory Harris (Pat Failed)||10||19|
|TD||02:06||Leonard Hankerson 19 Yd Pass From Jacory Harris (Matt Bosher Kick)||10||26|
|TD||09:04||Damien Berry 2 Yd Run (Matt Bosher Kick)||10||33|