Miami’s downward spiral under coach Manny Diaz continued Saturday with North Carolina and Sam Howell delivering another dose of pain.
Behind their star quarterback, the Tar Heels (4-3, 3-3 ACC) kept their faint hopes of winning the Coastal Division crown alive by beating the Hurricanes for the third consecutive year, 45-42. It marked the sixth consecutive loss for Miami (2-4, 0-2 ACC) against a Power 5 opponent. The Hurricanes are 2-4 for the first time since 1997.
The Tar Heels, who started that streak, didn’t put on the same offensive showcase they did a year ago when they racked up more than 500 yards rushing and 778 yards of total offense in a 62-26 blowout of Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. But Miami’s defense had another horrendous day tackling.
Few plays exemplified that more than when Howell bounced off three tacklers on his way to the end zone on an 11-yard run with 9:22 left to play. The touchdown was the 99th Howell was responsible for in his career, tying UNC’s school record.
Miami trailed 28-10 in the second quarter and went into the half down 31-17 as its offense produced only 80 yards over the first two quarters and struggled to get going under Tyler Van Dyke, who was making the first road start of his career. Van Dyke played better in the second half and rallied to pull Miami to 38-34 when he connected on a 60-yard touchdown pass to running back Jaylan Knighton.
Van Dyke, who led Miami on a 97-yard scoring drive to trim UNC’s lead to 45-42, brought the Canes to the UNC 16-yard line with the clock under 20 seconds to play. But his third-down pass was batted at the line of scrimmage by Jeremiah Gemmel and intercepted by linebacker Cedric Gray to end the game.
(Photo: Grant Halverson / Getty Images)