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Cards Rally to Defeat Canes

Cards Rally to Defeat Canes

by Carter Toole

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — On an afternoon when offensive mastermind Howard Schnellenberger was honored, the Miami Hurricanes and Louisville Cardinals put on a show that would have made the legendary coach proud.

The teams combined for 956 yards of offense, nine touchdowns and 14 plays of 20-plus yards, the last a Hail Mary that nearly tied up the game.

In the end the ninth-ranked Cardinals outlasted the Canes 38-31 Saturday before 44,996 on Senior Day at Hard Rock Stadium.

Louisville improved to 10-1 overall, 7-1 in conference play and clinched a berth in the ACC Championship Game. Miami fell to 6-5 overall and 2-5 in the ACC.

For the first time the Canes and Cardinals played for The Schnellenberger Trophy, named after the head coach who guided both programs to prominence in the 1980s.

After the Canes tied the game for the third time at 31-31 in the fourth quarterback, Cardinals quarterback Jack Plummer hit wide receiver Kevin Coleman on a 58-yard scoring strike to put Louisville back in front. Miami drove to the Cardinals four-yard line but a fourth-down pass from quarterback Tyler Van Dyke to wide receiver Jacolby George fell incomplete. The Canes got the ball back and attempted a Hail Mary with three seconds left – Van Dyke connected with wide receiver Xavier Restrepo, but he was tackled at the five-yard line as time expired.

“We gave ourselves a chance at the end,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “We found ourselves in a situation where we had a chance to take control of the game. It kept going back and forth. Good fight. Good effort. A lack of discipline at the end, that part is disappointing. We have to fix that. Aside from that, close isn’t good enough. Credit to their offense. They did some things that were very challenging. We’ve got to find a way to get better, get back to work for a quick turnaround and go play our best football on Friday next week.”

Returning to the starting lineup, Van Dyke completed 24 of 39 passes for 327 yards and one touchdown. Restrepo caught eight passes for 193 yards and a score. Running back Mark Fletcher, Jr. had another strong outing, carrying 17 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Safety James Williams paced the Canes with nine tackles, while fellow safety Kam Kinchens had eight stops and his fifth interception of the season.

Plummer completed 24 of 37 passes for 308 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He connected with 12 different receivers. Running back Isaac Guerendo rushed for 93 yards and one score. Safety Devin Neal led Louisville with eight tackles.

The Canes opened with a three-and-out and the Cards crossed midfield before facing a 4th and 2 at the Miami 32. Plummer completed a 23-yard toss to tight end Nate Kurisky, giving the Cards a first and goal. Two plays later Plummer hit Kurisky again for a two-yard touchdown and Louisville had an early 7-0 lead.

Miami struck back quickly. Van Dyke connected with Restrepo to convert a 3rd and 10 and on the next play threw a 53-yard dart to George, giving the Canes a first down at the Louisville 21. Fletcher took care of the rest, breaking a shoestring tackle in the secondary and gliding into the end zone. The game was knotted at 7-7.

On the next drive Plummer looked deep for wide receiver Jimmy Calloway and Kinchens raced over to pick it off at midfield. Van Dyke connected again with Restrepo for 30 yards and Miami was in the red zone. On 3rd and 5 Van Dyke had time to find Restrepo on a crossing route and the junior wideout dove into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception. The Canes had a seven-point lead.

Running back Maurice Turner returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Miami 45. The Cards took advantage of the short field as Guerendo capped a quick, five-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. The game was tied again with 18 seconds left in the opening quarter.

The teams traded three-and-outs before Miami got the ball back at its own 18. Van Dyke connected with Restrepo on another third down, moving the ball into Louisville territory. Miami faced a 4th and 1 at the Cards 37 and Fletcher moved the chains. Two plays later, Van Dyke flipped a reverse toss to wide receiver Brashard Smith, who raced around the right side and followed a bone-rattling block by Francis Mauigoa into the end zone for a 34-yard score. Miami was back in front.

On Louisville’s next drive, Guerendo rushed 17 yards across midfield before Plummer hit wide receiver Chris Bell for a 14-yard gain to the Miami 32. Plummer then connected with Bell on another long throw to give the Cards first and goal at the seven-yard line. But the Canes held and Brock Travelstead missed a 24-yard field goal to the right.

The Cards forced a three-and-out and took over at their 23 with 2:16 left in the half. Plummer marched his team down the field, completing 7 of 8 passes, the last a one-yard touchdown toss to offensive lineman Trevonte Sylvester. Defensive end Jared Harrison-Hunte blocked the extra point to preserve a one-point lead for Miami heading into the locker room.

Louisville opened the second half with an eight-play drive that stalled at the Canes 22. But new kicker Nick Lopez drilled a 40-yard field goal and the Cards were back on top 23-21.

The teams traded punts and Miami took over at its 45. Fletcher burst up the middle and scampered down the right sideline for 54 yards to the one-yard line. Two plays later he had his second touchdown of the day and the Canes had the lead back at 28-23.

Miami forced a punt and Van Dyke found Fletcher out of the backfield for a 25-yard gain to the Cards 45. But a 10-yard sack by defensive end Mason Reiger pushed the Canes back and Louisville got the ball back as the fourth quarter commenced.

Plummer went back to work, marching Louisville 89 yards on 11 plays, the last a quarterback draw by backup Evan Conley for a five-yard touchdown. The Cards went for two and converted to take a 31-28 lead.

The Canes kept feeding Fletcher, who ripped off gains of eight and 18 yards. Van Dyke then connected with Smith to pick up a key third down to the Cards 39. But Louisville’s defense stiffened, forcing a 51-yard field goal attempt by Andy Borregales. The kick was straight down the middle and the game was tied for a third time with 5:34 left on the clock.

But the Cardinals answered quickly as Plummer hit Coleman on a 58-yard scoring strike to restore Louisville’s lead. Miami got the ball at its 22 and Van Dyke completed another deep throw to Restrepo for 48 yards. After hitting Smith on a third down throw, Van Dyke looked for George in the end zone and cornerback Derrick Edwards was flagged for pass interference. Miami had first and goal at the four-yard line.

First and goal soon turned into fourth and goal at the three-yard line. Van Dyke looked for George again but the pass was incomplete. The Cards took over and ran the clock down to 19 seconds. Van Dyke completed two quick throws to get the offense in position for a Hail Mary. His long, high throw found Restrepo but the wideout was tackled at the five-yard line as time expired.

Miami next faces Boston College in Chestnut Hill Friday. Kickoff is 12 p.m. on ABC.