The clock had already hit 00:00, but the Hurricanes had not given up.
“This team is a bunch of fighters,” Junior Defensive Back Cornelius Elder said after the game. And down 3 with only six seconds left that is exactly what the ‘Canes did; fight.
A 50-second long play that involved 8 laterals demonstrated that they had heart, and the conclusion of Miami’s toughest week of the season proved it.
“We started the week out talking about just tapping into the human element of these kids,” Interim Head Coach Larry Scott said postgame. “Taking adversity and learning how in adversity there are great life lessons that if you use it the right way it can make you strong.”
That adversity first struck in the form of a coach’s departure. One day after Miami’s worst loss in school history against Clemson, the University announced that 5-year head coach Al Golden had been relieved of his duties.
While the announcement brought joy to the fan base, players were hurt by the news and began exclaiming that they wanted to win the coastal division “for Al”.
But despite their adoration for the man who recruited them, the team’s motivation changed early in the work week.
On October 27th 2015, Junior Defensive Back Artie Burn’s mother died after a heart attack.
If there was any moment that the team’s mantra “Unity Kills Adversity” needed to come to life, it was this week. With their coastal hopes on the line at Duke, the players knew they would have to rally together for a victory.
Before the game, players wore shirts displaying a photo of Artie Burns’ mother, Dana Smith, to remind them who they were playing for; to inspire unity.
And at the beginning of the matchup, the ‘Canes looked like a united and motivated team.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier stepped in for the injured Brad Kaaya, and threw to the tune of 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. The defense also looked like a unit on a mission, keeping Duke away from the end zone the entire first half.
Despite the stout first half performance; however, the fourth quarter was a different story.
The Blue Devils battled their way back, and with the clock ticking, Quarterback Thomas Sirk made his way into the end zone to give Duke the lead.
Most predicted that the game was over.
But this game was not predictable, because it wasn’t just any other week.
With the memory of Artie Burns’ mother in their hearts, Miami pulled off the unexpected and unpredictable; a miracle.
“She is out there,” Burns said after what Miami fans now refer to as “The Return”. “I just wanted to be around the guys, and I knew my mom would want the same thing. I just had to stay strong.”
Burns stayed strong, and so did the team on the road.
Miami gained much more than the win on Saturday night, they gained faith; faith in what the coaches were preaching.
That no matter what hits them during the week, team unity kills adversity.
Game Prediction: Miami takes their momentum and starts off hot at home against Virginia. This is certainly not an easy win for the ‘Canes; however, and Virginia’s defense puts forth a good effort. Miami’s offense looks good, and puts the Hurricanes in control for a large part of the ballgame. Virginia keeps it close, but Miami comes away with this one and keeps their coastal hopes alive.
Final Score: Miami 31 Virginia 21