NC State drops third straight home game to Miami, 27-13, after second-half meltdown

Wolfpack defense allows three rushing touchdowns in second half to fall below .500 ahead of UNC showdown

Rob Kinnan—USA Today Sports
Miami Hurricanes tight end Christopher Herndon IV (23) stiff arms North Carolina State Wolfpack safety Josh Jones (11) during the first half at Carter Finley Stadium.

RALEIGH — Fourth-quarter penalties cost NC State in a 27-13 loss at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday in the final home game of the season.Seeking bowl eligibility at 5-5 coming in, the Wolfpack stumbled in the second half and never quite recovered. Miami’s Mark Walton finished with three rushing touchdowns, all three coming in the second half after the Hurricanes were stymied for just three points in the first two quarters.Walton rushed for 18 yards in the first half on eight carries. He followed that up with 102 yards on 11 carries in the second half for a 120-yard day. That’s a pretty significant uptick.Missed opportunities on the other side for NC State — primarily five dropped passes — hindered NC State in the first half. Coach Dave Doeren focused on the first-half woes following the game.”First half, we dropped five passes, which led to our inability to have success on third down,” Doeren said. “So when you’re in a drive and you call a play and it’s protected and you throw it and you don’t catch it, that kills a situation where you might be going from a first and 10 to another first and 10. “All those things add up. Those were five plays where we could have had momentum and we didn’t.”On his final outing at The Carter, Matt Dayes had a tough time finding any traction in the first half, rushing for just 25 yards on nine carries. But the senior made history early on in the second half, passing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career.Dayes became the first running back to pass the 1,000-yard threshold since T.A. McClendon in 2002 after rushing for 865 last year in seven and a half games. The rush that pushed him over went for 11 yards to get NC State in the red zone. He scored later in the drive on a three-yard run, bulldozing a Miami defender to reach the end zone.The senior finished the day with 76 rushing yards and a touchdown in his final home start, but his impact on the program as a whole is all Doeren wanted to talk about after the loss.”He’s a great young man, he’s a hard worker, he’s a great teammate and he’s tremendous in the community,” Doeren said of Dayes. “He’s a guy that will always represent NC State the right way. As a player, he gives everything. … He’s the consonant type of player you want to model other players to.”It’s been a pleasure to coach Matt Dayes and I’ll miss him greatly when he’s gone.”Miami extended the lead on the ensuing drive after a fumble on the punt return by Bra’Lon Cherry to put the score at 20-10. State’s defense held twice, forcing the Canes to kick a field goal after the botched return by Cherry.The following drive for NC State was a forgettable one. Finley overthrew a wide open Jaylen Samuels on a would-be 24-yard touchdown pass. Two plays later, a Dayes 18-yard touchdown was called back due to a clipping penalty. Four plays later, Thad Moss was called for a false start the four-yard line on fourth-and-one. Connor Haskins ultimately kicked a 25-yard field goal that barely split the uprights to put the Pack within seven.Points were scored, but momentum was far from shifted. On the ensuing drive, a 15-yard penalty was called on Jack Tocho on a third-down pass to extend a drive for Miami. The Hurricanes capped the drive off with Walton’s third touchdown of the day to put the game out of reach.”It’s execution, is the bottom line,” Doeren said. “To score wherever you’re at on the field you have to hit the open man. The clipping penalty is a tough call. … The false start is a focus thing. That can’t happen.”We had zero penalties in the first half. In the second half we had a couple killers.”The Pack has a short week before heading to Chapel Hill on Friday. With Thanksgiving on Thursday, the Friday matchup essentially serves as a Thursday matchup with an off day for feasting in between.State has just one chance left for bowl eligibility on Friday at Kenan Stadium. After crumbling down the stretch against Miami, Friday can’t come quick enough for the Pack with the seniors final chance to take down rival UNC.”We’ve got a short week in front of us and go play our rival in six days,” Doeren explained, “so we’ll have to put it to bed and get better quick. Do whatever we can to get some guys healthy and go up there and try to get bowl eligible and win a rivalry football game.”