A day that started beautifully for the Miami Hurricanes ended even better.
Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams’ school record-breaking six passing touchdowns, the Hurricanes are bowl eligible, defeating Louisville 52-27 Saturday in the last 2019 regular-season game at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Let’s go bowling,’’ said Canes running back DeeJay Dallas. “Shoot, hopefully the Orange Bowl.’’
UM coach Manny Diaz was just happy with the win.
“What was great today for our players and our fans is they got to see, in my mind, more of a glimpse of what’s coming,’’ Diaz said. “When you see how dynamic we were on offense — explosive plays, run game downhill, the RPO game, getting the ball to our playmakers, all the things we said we wanted to do — that to me looked like the Miami Hurricane offense.
“To have an offense that you have confidence in, that says, ‘Hey, you don’t have to be a perfect defense today. We got this,’ was fantastic for us.’’
Williams’ aerial touchdowns broke a six-way UM tie among Bernie Kosar, Steve Walsh, Ken Dorsey, Kyle Wright, Stephen Morris and Brock Berlin for the former single-game record of five. His record-breaking score, a 28-yarder to Mike Harley, came with 6:59 left in the third quarter and the homecoming crowd of 53,111 having too much fun to likely have noticed they were soaked by torrential rain.
At that point, Miami was leading 52-21, the 52 points tying the most ever scored by the Canes against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Harley finished with six catches for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Williams was 15 of 22 for 253 yards and six touchdowns.
“What can you say about Jarren Williams?’’ Diaz said. “It’s an ACC-[tying] record. It’s a school record. ...It’s starting to look the way we want it to look.’’
For the first time in the Manny Diaz era, Miami (6-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) has strung together three victories after previous road wins at Pittsburgh and Florida State — and in doing so has kept its Coastal Division hopes alive.
The Cardinals, in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, fell to 5-4 and 3-3 as UM celebrated its seniors, who were honored in a pregame ceremony and ran through the Hard Rock smoke for the final time in their careers.
“It’s of massive importance,’’ Diaz said previously of the prospect of earning a bowl bid.
Miami can still finish 8-4 in the regular season if it defeats FIU at Marlins Park on Nov. 23 and Duke in Durham, North Carolina, in the season finale Nov. 30. This week will be UM’s third open week of the season, as the Canes are off next weekend.
Bowl games will not be announced until after the regular season.
“We know we’re going somewhere,’’ Diaz said. “The goal is to get [seniors] Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Romeo Finley, Pat Bethel, Rob Knowles, those guys, to get them on a podium, because they deserve it. The leadership we had here in the last three weeks, when it could have gone in either direction, for those guys to lead this team the way they have — and I promise you there are others: Trevon Hill, K.J. Osborn, Jimmy Murphy.
“But to get those guys on the podium is what they deserve for what they’ve done for the University of Miami Hurricanes.’’
It took the Hurricanes a cumulative 3 minutes 20 seconds in nine plays to score 21 points in the opening quarter — their second and third touchdowns each taking one play for a combined 25 seconds off the clock.
With 4:49 left in the first quarter, Miami was up 21-7 and Williams had completed all six of his passes for 138 yards and touchdowns to Dee Wiggins (67 yards in 15 seconds) and Dallas (14 yards in 10 seconds) — after Dallas had opened the scoring with a 5-yard run.
“When you’re ready to play a game, you get the ball and go down 92 yards to score,’’ Diaz said.
Said Dallas: “It just sucks that we don’t have that much time with the same guys, with the seniors we have leaving. It just sucks that we don’t have more games to play to show that we’ve come a long way as an offense.’’
Wiggins finished with three catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Dallas ran for 96 yards and the touchdown on 15 carries.
By 11:04 of the second quarter, Williams had completed all eight of his passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns, the third to Wiggins for 10 yards to culminate a 79-yard drive and put UM ahead 28-14.
Williams threw his first two incompletions on UM’s next drive, before the Canes’ Lou Hedley punted for the first time with 8:40 left in the half. But the Cards couldn’t convert, and UM’s Al Blades Jr. blocked Louisville’s punt, which only traveled 22 yards.
The Canes took over at the Louisville 32-yard line, and three plays after his 12-yard keeper, Williams hit tight end Will Mallory, who was all alone in the right corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown as rain pelted down. With 3:27 left in the half, UM led 35-14.
Miami cornerback DJ Ivey earned his team-leading third interception of the season with 43 seconds left in the first half, and UM took over at its own 20 as the clock ran down and the Canes ran into their locker room with a 35-14 lead.
Williams at the half was 10 of 14 for 179 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
“We’re just hungry,’’ Williams said. “I got high expectations.’’
Defensively, Miami had two interceptions (Ivey and Blades) and a fumble recovery by former walk-on senior Jimmy Murphy, who temporarily broke the famous turnover chain as he was hoisting it. The chain was fixed almost as quickly.
Louisville scored their first-half touchdowns on an 80-yard pass from Malik Cunningham to Tutu Atwell, a Miami Northwestern High alum; and a 6-yard pass from Cunningham to Ean Pfeifer.