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Winning Debut

Winning Debut

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – In that pressure-packed moment, there was little she could do.

So as her 18-year-old son ran onto the field with 2:04 left and the Hurricanes trailing Appalachian State by one, Vivian Borregales held up the tablet she uses to record each of her boys’ kicks, closed her eyes and waited.

The crowd’s reaction, she knew, would tell her everything.

What she ultimately heard was pure joy when Andy Borregales connected on a 43-yard field goal that helped lift the Hurricanes to a 25-23 win over the Mountaineers.

Immediately after the kick sailed through the uprights, her youngest son was mobbed by his excited teammates on the field at Hard Rock Stadium, while in the stands, his older brother Jose – an All-American who’d kicked for the Hurricanes on that very same field a year earlier – couldn’t stop smiling.

“It was a dream come true,” Vivian Borregales beamed.

“I had no doubt in my mind he was going to make it,” Jose Borregales added.

“That was amazing,” Andy Borregales said simply.

For the Borregales family, Miami’s home opener on Saturday was the latest memorable moment in a year that’s been seemingly full of them.

There was Jose adding his name to the Miami record book during a career performance in a win over Louisville last September. His becoming the first Hurricane to win the Lou Groza Award. Andy’s signing with Miami in December. Jose’s landing a spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now, there was Andy’s game winner – in his Hard Rock debut, no less.

The Hurricanes, understandably, couldn’t have been happier for their freshman kicker, who was 3 of 4 on the night, with two of those kicks coming in the fourth quarter.

“The Borregales family is special,” Miami quarterback D’Eriq King said. “They’re the best kickers in the country. Andy’s a confident person and the whole world can see it now. He just went out there and kicked the ball right down the middle…He won us the game. To go out there and make that kick, it’s great, especially being a freshman in his first game at Hard Rock. A lot of emotion probably going through his mind. But I’m so happy for him. I told him good job.”

King smiled.

“Then I said thank you, thank you so much,” the quarterback said.

Said Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz, “To go in there in the fourth quarter like that and to bang out two clutch kicks that we had to have, that is pretty special. We don’t want to put him in that situation often, but we know that if we get in that spot, we have a guy that has the confidence to make it. I think that entire sideline believed that kick was going to go in.”

While Saturday may have been Andy Borregales’ first home game as a Hurricane, the kicker has been preparing for a moment like that for as long as he can remember.

He’s spent years training with his brother, trying to emulate his kicking style. And the two have had countless discussions about technique and strategy.

All of that helped Andy Borregales become one of the nation’s top kicking prospects coming out of high school and North Carolina, FIU, Louisville and Southern Mississippi all expressed interest.

A lifelong Hurricanes fan, though, Borregales decided before the start of his junior year that he wanted to kick at Miami.

Once he eventually arrived on campus, he discovered his transition to the college game would be a bit simpler than maybe he expected, thanks in part to the help he got from his fellow specialists. Among them? Hurricanes punter Lou Hedley, who was Jose’s holder last year and is now holding for Andy.

“When we started that last drive, we knew it could come down to a field goal so I went up to Andy and asked if he was ready to win the and there was no doubt in his mind,” Hedley said. “He said ‘Let’s do it’ and he went out there, casual, and just nailed it.”

Making Saturday’s game-winning kick even more remarkable is that it came not long after Borregales had a kick blocked in the second quarter.

The freshman, though, said in that moment, he tried rely on another lesson from his older brother: resiliency.

“The thing I would say he’s said is to take one kick at a time,” Andy Borregales said. “He’s really dug that into my head. And also, just forget about the past. If something happens, think about it for like two seconds and then move on to the next.”

That approach served Borregales well against Appalachian State. But he says he’s determined to carry that mindset forward, especially as his career is just getting started.

The Hurricanes are set to host unbeaten Michigan State next week and there’s a chance Andy Borregales will be called on again to help put points on the board for Miami.

He’s ready to continue doing his part.

“I’ve just got to practice, keep getting 1 percent better every day,” Borregales said. “Honestly, just working on my consistency and accuracy. I just have to focus on accuracy and consistency.”