MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — — They found themselves trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter against a team that had consistently dominated them. Their starting quarterback was sidelined due to injury. The Miami Hurricanes were also grappling with the weight of two consecutive losses, fueling a sense of familiar disappointment that has plagued the program in recent years.
However, this particular night might be etched in the memories of the Hurricanes for a long time.
Ajay Allen sprinted into the end zone with a 3-yard run in the second overtime, propelling the shorthanded Miami team to a stunning 28-20 victory over Clemson on Saturday night. The game reached its climax with a pivotal fourth-down stop by Miami’s defense.
“This win validates so much,” said Miami coach Mario Cristobal. “It also ignites our hunger to achieve even more.”
Emory Williams, filling in for the injured Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, showcased resilience as he completed 24 of 33 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Williams, who remained unscathed throughout the game, experienced his most impactful moment after the match when Van Dyke jubilantly embraced him as a reward for engineering two late scoring drives, erasing a 17-7 deficit and potentially saving the season.
“At this moment,” exclaimed defensive lineman Rueben Bain, “I feel like I’m on top of the world.”
Clemson’s Cade Klubnik connected with Jake Briningstool on two touchdown passes, but the Tigers fell victim to their own mistakes, committing three turnovers in the first half, which ultimately cost them the game.
After Allen’s go-ahead touchdown, he secured a 2-point conversion, placing all the pressure on Clemson in the second overtime. On the final play of the game, as Clemson desperately needed to score from just a yard away, Klubnik’s attempt to deceive the Miami defense was thwarted by linebacker Corey Flagg. Flagg’s tackle unleashed a wave of celebration as the Hurricanes sprinted onto the field.
“Everyone talks about my touchdown,” Allen modestly acknowledged. “But Corey truly won us the game, if you want the honest truth.”
Van Dyke entered the stadium with a slight limp, signaling well in advance of the game that he wouldn’t be participating. Williams struggled for the majority of the game, only amassing 31 yards on his first 10 completions.
However, both Williams and Miami’s defense rose to the occasion in the end, snapping the Hurricanes’ two-game losing streak.
“We’re obviously very proud of our players and our program for displaying immense resilience and toughness,” remarked Cristobal. He emphasized that Miami’s memory of last year’s game against Clemson, a soul-crushing 40-10 defeat in which the Tigers scored a final touchdown with just 16 seconds remaining, fueled their determination to emerge victorious this time.
Williams found Colbie Young from 11 yards out with 8 minutes left in regulation, bringing Miami within a field goal. Andy Borregales’ 35-yard field goal with 1:51 left in the game tied the score at 20 and forced the game into overtime.
Both teams settled for field goals during their initial overtime possessions. Jonathan Weitz kicked a 31-yarder for Clemson, while Borregales matched it with a 35-yarder for Miami. This deadlock persisted until the second overtime when Allen’s touchdown and subsequent 2-point conversion propelled the Hurricanes to victory.
This loss postpones Dabo Swinney’s quest to become Clemson’s all-time wins leader. He remains tied with Frank Howard at 165 wins.
Clemson: This game deviated from the norm in numerous aspects. Under Swinney’s leadership, Clemson had previously boasted a 16-3 record in regular-season games following bye weeks and had triumphed in 47 out of 57 night games since 2015. In addition, they had convincingly defeated Miami in their last four encounters, outscoring them 178-30.
Miami: The Hurricanes had struggled in home ACC games, failing to secure a victory in their previous five matches. This losing streak in conference games was reminiscent of their performance in 2007 and 2008 when they also lost five consecutive ACC home matches.
Clemson was listed as second in the “also receiving votes” category in last week’s AP Top 25 poll. However, it is highly unlikely that any voters will include the Tigers on their ballots this week. Miami, which dropped out of the rankings after last week’s loss to North Carolina, may have positioned itself for a potential return to the poll.
Both teams fumbled at the goal line on consecutive plays in the first quarter. Will Shipley lost the ball for Clemson, while Miami recovered it in the end zone. On Miami’s ensuing possession, Brashard Smith embarked on an 80-yard run but also fumbled the ball. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, Jacolby George recovered it, enabling them to secure a 7-0 lead.
Clemson: Visits North Carolina State on Oct. 28.
Miami: Hosts Virginia on Oct. 28.
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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football
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