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Canes Show ''Continued Progress'' in Win over Eagles

Canes Show ''Continued Progress'' in Win over Eagles

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – It was a scene befitting a near-perfect regular-season finale.

As the Hurricanes walked off the field at Alumni Stadium on Friday afternoon, some of them stopped to high-five the Miami fans that had made their way to New England for Friday’s game. Others posed for selfies or signed autographs.

The mood was celebratory, the smiles understandably genuine.

After enduring a stretch of three tough losses – including two hard-fought games against top-10 opponents that went down to the wire – the Hurricanes put together a dominant performance in a 45-20 win over Boston College that not only gave them a road win over a conference foe, but likely helped improve their bowl stock and served as yet another reminder of the kind of progress Miami has been working toward in its second year under head coach Mario Cristobal.

And once the game was over, that progress was something the coach couldn’t help but note.

“A year ago, that was some tough sledding, you know? A very different roster nowhere near capable of sustaining a high level of play. [Now], improved roster, improved systems, improved schematically, improved culture,” Cristobal said. “Now, every game is either we’re winning it, or it’s coming down to the wire, right? … Most of them came down to that last series or so.

“So, continued progress and then at the end, when your back’s up against the wall, and you’ve got a short week and you’ve got to get on the road in weather that we’re not used to – but beautiful weather, I mean this is as beautiful football weather as you can have – and just appreciate that [Boston College] is a good football team … But our guys came out and really attacked it schematically, effort-wise. Really played hard and played really well.”

Photo by Elijah Heatley

One area where the Hurricanes shined in particular? The passing game.

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke – who has endured his share of ups and downs this season – put together an impressive performance, completing 23 of 36 passes for 290 yards with two touchdowns.

The Connecticut native, who was playing in front of dozens of friends and family members who traveled to Chestnut Hill, engineered touchdown drives of 67, 63, 69, 71, 92 and 65 yards on Friday and made sure to put the ball in the hands of more than a few of Miami’s playmakers.

Receiver Xavier Restrepo finished with six catches for a game-high 117 yards and notched his second straight 100-yard performance. Fellow receiver Jacolby George had six catches for 89 yards, with a touchdown and Colbie Young added three catches for 34 yards and a score.

And like Cristobal, Van Dyke noted Miami’s effort and resiliency was a testament to the work the Hurricanes have done not just over the course of the 11 months, but the character of the team, overall.

“I mean, we didn’t quit all year, no matter what happened,” said Van Dyke, who finished the regular season with 2,703 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. “Even looking back at Florida State and Louisville games, we had opportunities to win the games there, and there was no quit in either of those games or obviously today. I’m really proud of this team and the way we’ve handled adversity. It was really, really, really cool finishing the season with a good win.”

Miami’s running backs also turned in an impressive performance against Boston College.

The Hurricanes totaled 242 rushing yards, with Henry Parrish, Jr. leading the group.

Parrish had 11 carries for 111 yards with two touchdowns, while Ajay Allen had nine carries for 68 yards with a touchdown and Mark Fletcher, Jr. had 12 carries for 44 yards with a touchdown.

That complete effort in the regular-season finale was especially meaningful, Fletcher said, given the way he and some of his fellow backs have had to battle through injuries this year.

“It was real good, real good to see,” Fletcher said. “Especially Henry Parrish back, Ajay…to see those guys, they’ve been banged a little bit, had to sit out. I was happy just to see those boys go.”

With the regular season now behind it, Miami will, soon enough, turn its attention to preparing for its upcoming bowl game.

Ahead of Friday’s game, Cristobal noted the Hurricanes – particularly the younger players on the roster – would undoubtably benefit from that experience, from the chance to log some extra practices to facing another high-level opponent before closing out the year.

It’s an opportunity Fletcher – a freshman – is already looking forward to, especially since the Hurricanes will be going into that bowl game on a positive note after Friday’s win.

“I’m really excited. It’s going to be a great opportunity,” Fletcher said. “This program hasn’t had one in a little minute, so I’m just happy to be a part of it. … It feels really good. It feels really good to win [before that bowl]. We battled some hard games, kept coming up close and we just had to put it all together today.”

Said Cristobal, “We’ll put our roster together and heal up some guys and get ready for an opportunity here in the postseason, which is exciting for us, excited for an opportunity to get win number eight.”