November 30, 2023

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami should have taken a knee. It took a disastrous loss instead, as Georgia Tech turned a huge mistake by the Hurricanes into a last-second miracle.

Haynes King threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Christian Leary with two seconds remaining after Miami turned the ball over with the game all but won, and Georgia Tech stunned the 17th-ranked Hurricanes 23-20 on Saturday night.

The Yellow Jackets went 74 yards in 24 seconds, just after the Hurricanes had the option to kneel down, likely run out the clock, win the game and remain unbeaten. Instead, Don Chaney fumbled the ball away — Miami argued he was down, referees disagreed — and the Yellow Jackets pulled off a stunner.

“Not going to make an excuse for it, say we should’ve done this or that,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said of not taking a knee. “That’s it. We should’ve done it. Sometimes you get carried away with just, finish the game and run it. I should’ve stepped in and said, ‘Hey, just take a knee.'”

Said Georgia Tech coach Brent Key: “We kind of thought they were taking a knee.”

The Hurricanes (4-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) didn’t and paid a huge price. King threw an incomplete pass under pressure on first down of the last drive, then connected with Malik Rutherford for a 30-yard gain. Rutherford was inbounds and the clock ran until King spiked the ball with 10 seconds left. The scoreboard showed Georgia Tech had no timeouts remaining; the play-by-play of the game suggested the Yellow Jackets still might have had one.

Either way, then came the miracle.

King — maybe channeling his inner Doug Flutie from a deep throw that stunned Miami in 1984 — rolled right, waited and Leary got well behind two Miami defenders. The throw hit Leary in stride, he slid into the end zone as a few items of debris rained down from the stands.

“I felt it as soon as it left my fingers,” King said.

The Hurricanes had a six-lateral try on the final play of the game, but got stopped near midfield.

Tyler Van Dyke threw for 288 yards but was intercepted three times for Miami. Xavier Restrepo caught 12 passes for 144 yards for the Hurricanes, who got a rushing score from Henry Parrish.

King and Jamal Haynes had third-quarter rushing touchdowns in a span of just over two minutes for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech’s under-new-management defense — the team elevated Kevin Sherrer to coordinator after a loss to Bowling Green last week — frustrated Miami for much of the night, then somehow got the takeaway it needed at the end.

Miami outgained Georgia Tech 454-250, had 23 first downs to the Yellow Jackets’ 12, and none of it mattered. Georgia Tech found a way, and Van Dyke didn’t throw blame at anyone but himself — even when asked after the game if he was surprised offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson didn’t call for a kneel-down.

“We trust our offensive coordinator,” Restrepo said. “We trust each other.”

Miami had scored in all 16 quarters it had played in the first four games and came into the night as one of three teams nationally to post at least 38 points in every game this season. But it took until the final play of the first half, a 30-yard field goal by Miami’s Andres Borregales, to get any scoring from either side.

Georgia Tech went up 17-10 early in the fourth quarter on a field goal soon after Van Dyke’s third interception. Miami scored the game’s next 10 points.

After Borregales was good from 39 yards out midway through the fourth to give Miami the lead, the Hurricanes put themselves in position to win — then somehow managed to lose.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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