Canes Rewind: A Look Back at the Win over Clemson
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Each week this season, we’ll take a look at the game that was for the Hurricanes.
Here are some key storylines, numbers of note and quotes from Miami’s 28-20 double overtime win over Clemson on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium.
After a pair of conference losses, the Hurricanes came into their matchup against Clemson – one of the ACC’s traditional powerhouse programs – knowing they had both a challenge and an opportunity ahead of them.
It was a challenge and opportunity they had to manage without their starting quarterback.
After warm-ups, the decision was made to hold veteran signal caller Tyler Van Dyke out of the game after he took several hard hits in last week’s loss at North Carolina. And throughout the night, the Hurricanes did their best to rally around freshman Emory Williams in his first collegiate start.
Miami’s defense made its presence felt all game and forced three turnovers, including one that led to the Hurricanes’ first touchdown.
On Clemson’s second drive, with the Tigers facing a third-and-goal inside the Miami 2-yard line, Hurricane safety James Williams forced – and recovered – a Will Shipley fumble.
One play later, the Hurricanes scored, thanks in large part to an 80-yard rush up the middle by Brashard Smith. Smith was stripped of the ball as he crossed the goal line, but teammate Jacolby George was there to scoop it up and give the Hurricanes their first lead over Clemson since 2010.
After that, though, the Hurricanes struggled to put points on the board.
Meanwhile, the Tigers – who have won two national championships and six ACC titles since 2016 – scored 17 unanswered points over the course of the second and third quarters to put the Hurricanes in a 17-7 hole going into the fourth.
But the Hurricanes rallied.
With 8:00 left, Emory Williams capped a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive when he connected with Colbie Young on an 11-yard touchdown pass. That cut the Tigers’ lead to three after Andy Borregales connected on the extra point.
Miami’s defense then forced a crucial three-and-out by Clemson and the Hurricanes took possession again, this time with 7:05 left.
Miami capitalized, going 43 yards in 10 plays to set up a game-tying, 38-yard field goal from Borregales that put the Hurricanes in position for overtime.
The Hurricanes and Tigers traded field goals in the first overtime before Miami took the lead for good when running back Ajay Allen scored on a 3-yard run.
That set Miami’s defense up to make its biggest stop of the game and as it did all night, the unit delivered.
With Clemson facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Corey Flagg, Jr. kept Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik from getting in the endzone, instead tackling him for an eight-yard loss that set off a massive celebration on the field and throughout Hard Rock Stadium.
The win marked Miami’s first over Clemson in 13 years and snapped a four-game losing streak to the Tigers.
“Very proud of our players, very proud of our program for showing just a ton of resiliency, toughness and coming out and really just playing every snap with just a lot of juice, a lot of energy, [and] executing at a higher level,” Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal said. “Certainly, the value of each snap showed for us today. We didn’t turn the ball over. We forced some turnovers. Emory got the call a little bit later in the week. It was a little bit of a surprise to us. We thought were okay with Tyler, but I couldn’t be more proud of the young guy to step in there and do the things he did. Early on in the game, it was a little bit fast. But as he settled [in], he got better and better. The offensive line, the entire defense, what a performance by those guys. All in all, a lot of good stuff, some stuff to clean up. Some happy guys in the locker room right there today and right back to work tomorrow.”
Numbers to Know
31 – Total rushing yards allowed by Miami’s defense against Clemson. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, rushed for 211 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
150 – All-purpose yards collected by Miami’s Brashard Smith, who rushed for 87 yards, had 36 receiving yards and totaled another 27 yards on kickoff returns.
10 – Tackles for loss made by the Miami defense. Five of those were sacks, with freshman defensive lineman Rueben Bain, Jr. collecting two of those. Bain also had eight tackles, a forced fumble and two quarterback hurries.
24 – Completions thrown by Hurricanes freshman quarterback Emory Williams in his first collegiate start. Williams was 24 of 33 and threw for 151 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
0 – Points scored by Clemson off Miami’s lone turnover of the game. Improving ball security and taking care of the ball were points of emphasis for the Hurricanes this week after costly turnovers against Georgia Tech and North Carolina proved costly in their previous two games. Against Clemson, the Hurricanes won the turnover battle and ultimately, the game.
“Well, I’m sure you all saw the stats on how Clemon’s last games against Miami, the average margin victory was 39 points or something like of that nature. They didn’t forget anything. They scored on us with 16 seconds last year as the clock was winding down to. So, I think our guys came out with a lot to prove. I think it shows how much the gap has closed with one full class, a couple of transfers and some player development within the program. So, we knew that progress was very tangible. You could see it in our systems working, but to actually go out there and pull through and push through against a veteran team, it validates a lot and also increases our appetite to go get a win.”
– Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal, on the importance of Saturday’s win over Clemson
“That play was a big play. That’s to win the game. Everybody talked about my touchdown, but Corey really won the game, if you want to know the truth. I mean, that’s a big stop to walk it off.”
– Hurricanes running back Ajay Allen, on linebacker Corey Flagg’s tackle to end the game
“It was a special moment. You know, [Tyler Van Dyke], I love TVD. We have a great quarterback room. We’re all – me, TVD, [Jacurri Brown] – we’re all super close. Just to see his excitement for me, it means the world to me. I’m his biggest fan. He was with me the whole way, every step of the way. I couldn’t be more proud to be his teammate.”
– Hurricanes quarterback Emory Williams, on his post-game celebration with veteran quarterback Tyler Van Dyke
“I believe it shows the reawakening of the Miami DNA, the Miami culture. We’re realizing that our hard work does pay off, you know? Through tough times, tough adversity, the details matter and it means a lot because we see that it works and we keep trusting the process. I think we see that as a whole – I know we do. … It’s one game at a time, 100 percent, but it feels like we can see how special we are, even through the tough losses that have come to pass.”
– Hurricanes linebacker Corey Flagg, Jr. on what Saturday night’s win meant to the program
“It feels great. Right now, I feel like I’m on top of the world. First thing I did … was run to my parents. I feel like I can only do that at home. People telling me all over on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, any type of social media [is] going crazy right now. I feel like that’s because I stayed home, and I hope guys coming up [are] seeing that. I feel like they can do the same thing.”
– Hurricanes defensive lineman Rueben Bain, Jr. on what it means to play for his hometown program
The Hurricanes (5-2, 1-2) will continue making their way through a slate of eight straight ACC games when they host Virginia on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.
The Cavaliers (2-5, 1-2) enter the matchup on a high after notching a 31-27 upset victory over 10th-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday night.
It marked Virginia’s first road win over a top-10 team in program history.
Mike Hollins had a team-high 15 carries for 67 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cavaliers, while quarterback Tony Muskett completed 20 of 30 passes and threw for 208 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Virginia held North Carolina and its high-powered offense to just three points in the game’s final 24 minutes and linebacker James Jackson had an interception late to seal the win.
The Hurricanes currently hold a 12-8 lead in the all-time series and have won three of the last four matchups against Virginia, including last year’s 14-12 win in four overtimes.