University of Miami

Miami’s defense smothers, offense dominates to make it three straight over Florida State 

The streak continues, and suddenly this season doesn’t feel nearly as bad.

The Miami Hurricanes, led by a ruthless defense and dominant performance by quarterback Jarren Williams, defeated archrival Florida State 27-10 Saturday to extend their winning streak over the Seminoles to three years and earn back-to-back wins this season for the first time since September.

Miami (5-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) not only has bragging rights for another year, it needs to win only one of its remaining three games to earn a bowl berth.

“I think we’re starting to find ourselves,’’ UM coach Manny Diaz said. “These guys love playing with each other.”

A 56-yard touchdown throw from Jarren Williams to Dee Wiggins — the first touchdown of Wiggins’ career — sealed the eventual victory for Miami with 12:05 left in the game and the FSU fans among the crowd of 63,995 at Doak Campbell Stadium silenced.

“First touchdown, a big game,’’ Wiggins said. “I was very excited. I’ve been waiting on that moment my whole life. I thank the O-linemen for that, I thank the quarterback for that and I thank my teammates and my receivers and my receivers coach and my head coach.’’

A 32-yard field goal by walk-on kicker Camden Price added three points of insurance with 6:27 left.

“It was just great team ball — offense, defense, special teams,’’ Diaz said. “We’re becoming what we thought we could become as a team and to do it at Doak Campbell Stadium is pretty special.’’

Williams completed 21 of 37 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns, though he also lost a fumble.

“You gotta keep believing,’’ Williams said. “Winning is everything.’’

His defense? Smothering, with a season high nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss, with two interceptions. The Canes held FSU star running back Cam Akers to 66 yards on 22 carries and the Seminoles to 203 total yards.

Miami defensive end Greg Rousseau continued his phenomenal redshirt freshman season with a career-high four sacks after setting a career record the previous week at Pittsburgh with three.

“They were relentless,’’ Diaz said of UM’s defensive line. “If you get dominated up front, there are not a lot of things that work.”

Said Rousseau: “It really feels good when all the work you put in pays off. We needed that momentum. We played a solid game in all three phases. I’m just so happy for the coaches.’’

FSU quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who dominated UM in the Orange Bowl after the 2017 season, was 17 of 24 for 135 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. James Blackman came in late and threw the second interception.

And almost unbelievably, the Canes were not dead in the ACC’s Coastal Division as they awaited the league night games to be played, in particular the 7:30 p.m. Virginia at North Carolina game. A Virginia win would keep UM’s chances alive.

The Seminoles (4-5, 3-4), however, are again in a dark place after their third loss in four games. Since the start of last season, FSU and coach Willie Taggart are 9-12, with Taggart’s FSU seat heating up and his future seeming more uncertain.

The Hurricanes meet Louisville at Hard Rock Stadium in their final 2019 home game next Saturday, then face FIU at Marlins Park on Nov. 23 and Duke in Durham, North Carolina, for the season finale Nov. 30.

Trailing 17-3 at halftime, the Seminoles roared back to score in the third quarter after UM’s Williams failed to convert on fourth-and-1 from the FSU 38. The six-play, 62-yard drive was capped by Akers’ 18-yard rush at 10:31 left in the quarter, cutting Miami ‘s lead to 17-10.

The Canes opened the scoring with until that point their longest touchdown of the season, a 39-yarder from Williams to Jeff Thomas, who caught the ball in the end zone with 9:10 left in the first quarter. Price kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.

Two plays earlier, Williams looked toward the action on the left side of the field, then tossed a screen pass on the right side to DeeJay Dallas, who weaved in and out of traffic to finally get tackled for a 42-yard gain and set up the initial score.

“It’s lit!” Dallas said of the post-game celebratory locker room.

Florida State got its first points on a 37-yard field goal by Ricky Aguayo with 10:15 left in the first half. The Seminoles took 6:48 off the clock on the 17-play drive, which was extended on a 20-yard, second-down pass from Hornibrook to Tamorrion Terry to put FSU on the UM 20. Two plays later, FSU had first-and-goal from the 9, but UM’s defense held, highlighted by a 5-yard tackle-for-loss by Shaq Quarterman and a sack by Amari Carter.

UM led 7-3.

Miami scored the next 10 points of the half, first on a 6-yard rush over right end by Dallas at 3:58 of the second quarter, one play after Williams completed a 34-yard pass to Mike Harley on the left sideline; and next on a 30-yard field goal by Price as time expired and the teams headed for their locker rooms with UM up by 14 points.

Dallas’ touchdown drive was precipitated by UM defensive end Trevon Hill’s stop of the Seminoles at fourth-and-1 from the FSU 46.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.
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