Jaylan Knighton, #4, freshman running back from Deerfield Beach After the Panthers opened the game by scoring on their first drive, the Hurricanes answered by scoring on their first three possessions and four of their first five.

Jaylan Knighton, #4, freshman running back from Deerfield Beach After the Panthers opened the game by scoring on their first drive, the Hurricanes answered by scoring on their first three possessions and four of their first five. 

What a difference eight days makes.

It’s been an interesting week for Hurricane football, very interesting.

Before UM’s upset win against #18 NC State, Canes Nation and both local and national media were calling for heads to roll.

With gloom and doom abounding in Coral Gables few thought UM had a chance heading to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh last Saturday to take on Heisman Trophy contender , QB Kenny Pickett and his #17 (6-1,3-0) Panthers.

Pickett came into last Saturday with 2236 yds passing , 23 TDs and only 1 interception. He threw for a school record 519 against the Canes breaking both the Panthers all time yardage mark and Dan Marino’s career TD mark of 82 scores but it was not enough, as Miami for the first time in their 85 year history defeated Top 20 opponents on consecutive weekends while unranked themselves.

Miami went from (2-4,0-2) to (4-4,2-2) and are back in the hunt for a Coastal Division title and an upper tier bowl berth.

The 38-34 win over Pittsburgh was assuredly a team win with important contributions from upperclassmen Deandre Johnson, Zach McCloud, Amari Carter and Gilbert Frierson standing out on defense and Will Mallory. Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley shining on the offensive side. That said, it was the kids who carried the day.

There were two game changing defensive plays against Pitt , both in the fourth quarter, one each by a starting freshman safety. Early in the quarter, down 38-31, Pickett led the Panthers down to the Miami five and on third down Pitt tried a trick play where Pickett shifted to a TE position, receiver Lucas Krull took the snap and looked for Pickett in the end zone.

First time starting freshman safety Kam Kinchens was having none of it. Kam smothered Pickett in the end zone and Krull had to throw it away making Pitt settle for a field goal.

On Pittsburgh’s final possession they drove 57 yards into Miami territory before James Williams,UM’s other freshman starting safety intercepted a second down Pickett pass at the Miami two.

The Canes were able to run out the clock from there. Williams also led the Canes with nine tackles.

Other outstanding freshman defenders were starting CB Marcus Clarke with six tackles and MLB Corey Flagg Jr who added five tackles.

It took 38 points to down Pitt and freshmen were part of every score.

After the Panthers took the opening kick 75 yds for a 7-0 lead the UM youngins came out guns ablazin’ with TDs on their first three possessions making sure Pitt only led for 1:38 that afternoon.

Freshman QB Tyler Van Dyke entered the UM record books in only his fifth start with 426 passing yds earning a top ten all time UM passing game total.

On the first drive, Van Dyke took the Canes 75 yds in five plays and with a 20 yd TD to freshman TE Elijah Arroyo and the extra point by freshman Andres Borregales. It was tied at seven. Miami held, then made it 14-7 on a 57 yd ‘reverse flea flicker’ as Van Dyke handed off to freshman Jaylan Knighton who reversed it to freshman Xavier Restrepo who lateraled it back to Van Dyke who hit Mallory for the go ahead score.

On their next possession, Miami again struck fast going up 21-7 on a two play 60 yd drive capped by a Knighton 40 yd blur of a run. Canes first three drives, 10 plays for 205 yds and 3 TD in 2:56 . Knighton added another score late in the first half for a 31-17 lead at the break. After Pickett threw two third quarter TDs tying the game at 31, Van Dyke took the Canes 85 yds on 8 plays giving Miami the lead for good at 38-31 on a 13 yard strike to Key’Shawn Smith (kudos to all who guessed Key’Shawn is indeed a freshman).

Van Dyke finished 32-42,426 yds, 3 TD,1int. Pickett 39-55,519,3 TD, 2 int. Knighton had 80 yds on the ground and 2 TD and added 5 catches for 11 yds. Rambo and Restrepo had seven receptions, Harley five and both Mallory and Smith three.

Next up, Homecoming at 12:30 Saturday against Georgia Tech. Take a ride up to Hard Rock and support this young team. It’s certain to be an amazing afternoon.

As I wrote, what a difference eight days makes, Go Canes!

Basketball note:

Both the Men’s and Women’s teams open play at home Tuesday 11/9. The Women host Jackson State at 4:00. Tickets are $5.00. The Men play Canisius at 7:00 and tickets start at $10.

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