The touchdown seemed inevitable for Central Michigan.
It was the fourth quarter. CMU quarterback David Moore had driven his team to the Miami Hurricanes’ 7-yard line trailing with his team 17-5. The Chippewas’ first three attempts at getting the ball into the end zone failed, and coach Jim McElwain kept his offense on the field.
Central Michigan was gifted a fresh set of downs after UM linebacker Michael Pinckney was flagged for holding, and a couple plays later, defensive end Scott Patchan was assessed an offside penalty on first-and-goal at the UM 1-yard line.
A flag on cornerback Trajan Bandy for pass interference on second-and-goal followed, and after four UM penalties on the drive, Moore punched it in for a touchdown.
The Hurricanes were flagged 13 times for 93 yards in their 17-12 win over Central Michigan on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium after entering the game as one of the least penalized teams in the FBS.
“You just gotta put the play behind you. We call it having amnesia,” linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. “You have a good play, you still gotta forget about it and then go out and snap the ball. You have bad plays, you still gotta forget about it and go out and snap the ball.
“Regardless of it getting aggravating and redundant, we just lined it up every play that we could until we couldn’t anymore.”
Before Saturday’s win, UM ranked 117th out of 130 teams FBS this in fewest penalties this season.
“I think what we found today are things that can help you lose, that can get you beat, and you can’t talk about it without going right to the penalties,” coach Manny Diaz said. “And those things can deny an otherwise great effort, defensively. Look at what [Central Michigan’s] total yards were even at halftime, but we were never off the field because of our penalties. Those were things that were getting in the way. Hitting a guy after a play, things that are very out of character for us. And, obviously, will be addressed in practice.”
Five offensive penalties (40 yards) and eight defensive penalties (53 yards) were accepted against the Hurricanes on Saturday, including an illegal helmet contact call on defensive end Jonathan Garvin on third-and-7 in the second quarter.
That drive ended in a forced fumble by Garvin and recovery by the Hurricanes defense, but it was already the fourth penalty of the game for Miami.
“It’s really just ... It’s just cleaning up the little things,” tight end Brevin Jordan said after the game. “That’s really the big thing. Just cleaning up the little things, because I had one, too. There was probably two or three. We’re gonna go into this bye week, we’re gonna be professional about it, try to perfect our craft and we’re gonna try to beat Virginia Tech.”
The Hurricanes were assessed five penalties in the season opener against Florida, seven against North Carolina and five last week in their win over Bethune-Cookman before their season high against Central Michigan.
“I feel like when you play the game, you can’t really react too much to penalties like that,” defensive end Gregory Rousseau said. “If they get like a pass interference or whatever, if it’s first down, then you gotta just play that first down and focus on winning that one down and not be like, ‘Man, we did this. We did that.’
“You gotta just have a short memory and just move on.”