MIAMI GARDENS, FL; – Shaquille Quarterman, Joe Jackson and the rest of the Miami Hurricanes defense came up big Thursday night by scoring three defensive touchdowns on their way to a 47 to 10 destruction of North Carolina. The Turnover Chain got plenty of camera time with the ‘Canes six turnovers on the night that included three interceptions and three fumbles recovered.
To begin the game, both teams looked rather even with a 7 to 3 scoreline favoring Miami, when ‘Canes linebacker Shaquille Quarterman came free off the edge and forced a fumble from UNC quarterback Nathan Elliott. Quarterman’s fumble was then scooped up by defensive end Jon Garvin who scored after a nine yard run and set the tone for what would be the rest of the evening.
The N’Kosi Perry era has begun as the redshirt freshman started under center for the Hurricanes replacing Malik Rosier. Perry had a serviceable evening but didn’t need to do much because of the impact the defense made on the game. Still 8 of 12 for 125 yards, a touchdown and a pick isn’t the worst night you can have on your ACC debut and debut as a starter.
“I thought he (Perry) did well.” Said ‘Canes Coach Mark Richt about his redshirt freshman quarterback. “He was excited to play, I don’t think it was too big for him. He made good decisions, threw the ball extremely well, got us in the right defenses(against them)”
Before the flood gates opened North Carolina opted to go with Chazz Surratt after the fumble on the previous possession and Surratt looked(at the start) like he had better control of the offense. The Tar Heels began to run all over Miami and Surratt scored his first touchdown of the season on a 17 yard scramble to make the game 14 to 10. This would be the last good thing for UNC on the night as Surratt finished 4 of 10 for 10 yards and three picks while Elliot did better with 16 of 25 for 104 yards but did fumble on the Garvin pickup.
From there it was ALL Miami as the 16th-ranked team in the nation showed just how dominant their defense could be. Up 17 to 10 with nine minutes to play in the second quarter a hurried Surratt threw an ill advised pass right into the waiting arms of defensive end Joe Jackson who took it 42 yards to the house and pushed the ‘Canes ahead further.
“We made a position change, Joe Jackson is now a tight end” Said a joking Richt highlighting his defensive ends speed and catching ability. The Junior defensive lineman was credited with five tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, and even a pass break up to go with that interception.
The final touchdown from the Hurricanes defense of the night came on a Romeo Finley interception return that he took 83 yards for the score making it 3 for 3 with defensive lineman scoring touchdowns. Finley ran into coverage on the flat and read Surratt like a book to snag that pick.
The Hurricanes weren’t perfect as early on they struggled to stop the run as the Tar Heels rushed for 215 yards and a few mistakes on the offense in the third quarter shows plenty of room for improvement. Another concern is the health of linebacker Shaquille Quarterman who had a monster game before being taken out at halftime for what Coach Richt said is an “ankle sprain”.
Notable Hurricanes Stats:
Perry – 8-12 125 yds 1 TD 1 INT
DeeJay Dallas – 11 carries 114 yards 1 TD
Travis Homer – 14 carries 88 yards
Defense: 14 TFL, 3 INT, 3 FUM REC, 3 SACKS, 3 TDs
The ‘Canes improve to 4-1(1-0) and take on hated rivals Florida State next weekend at Hard Rock Stadium. Should be another classic.
- Darrell Wilkinson TheSkyBoat.com
- Twitter: @TheSkyBoat