MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami’s worst game of the season was good enough to beat Central Michigan.
Jarren Williams passed for 250 yards and a touchdown, DeeJay Dallas ran for another score and Miami — a 30-point favorite — needed a takeaway in the final seconds to seal a 17-12 win over Central Michigan.
“Tonight was our second win, but probably our fourth-best performance of the four that we’ve had so far,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. “With all that being said, the only thing we could accomplish here today was beat Central Michigan — which, after the course of 60 minutes when everything was added up, that’s what we got done.”
The Hurricanes gave up four sacks, committed 13 penalties, allowed a safety, dropped an interception, got a punt blocked, went 1 for 10 on third downs and ran for only 51 yards on 34 attempts — against a Mid-American Conference team whose only other outing against a Power 5 opponent so far this season resulted in a 61-0 beating at Wisconsin.
And at the end, it took a 59-yard field-changing punt from Miami’s Louis Hedley to pin Central Michigan deep in the final minute and an interception with six seconds remaining before Miami (2-2) could finally exhale.
“I’m really proud of those kids in that locker room,” said Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain, the former Florida coach whose return to the Sunshine State almost delivered a big upset. “They made a decision and a choice this week to go out and really play hard. And I tell you what, we played hard — which was great to see.”
Brevin Jordan caught three passes for 70 yards for the Hurricanes, who went 85 yards relatively easily for a touchdown on their first drive and then managed a total of only 117 yards and seven points on their next nine possessions. K.J. Osborn had a touchdown catch in the third quarter for Miami.
“We were just really hurting ourselves,” Jordan said. “We’ve just got to execute better. … We’re going to clean it up.”
Ryan Tice kicked a career-long 55-yard field goal for Central Michigan (2-2). The Chippewas got within five on David Moore’s 1-yard keeper with 3:21 left, capping a 17-play drive that was extended in part by four Miami penalties near the goal line.
“Their quarterback is a dude,” Diaz said. “That guy can play.”
Moore finished 23 of 50 for 217 yards. Williams completed 17 of 24 passes for Miami.
McElwain said he asked his team for one thing, and it delivered.
“When the game was over, be able to look yourself in the mirror and say ‘You know what, I gave everything I had,’” McElwain said. “We had about 63 guys on the trip that gave everything they had.”
Central Michigan: The Chippewas are now 0-4 all-time in the state of Florida, getting outscored 185-41. The next time they’re scheduled to come to Florida is 2024 for a game at FIU. … Tice’s field goal was two yards shy of the CMU school record, that being a 57-yarder by Rade Davich against Ball State in 1975.
Miami: The Hurricanes had a rare 1st-and-1 from the Central Michigan 46 early in the third quarter, after a downfield holding penalty nullified much of a big gain on a screen pass. … Kicker Bubba Baxa made a 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, after a 27-yard miss was wiped out by a penalty. Baxa had missed a kick from 30 yards or less in each of Miami’s first three games.
Williams still hasn’t thrown for an interception in 119 throws. It’s the longest such career-opening stretch by any Miami quarterback.
In addition to the big kick in the final minute, Hedley — who also had a punt blocked Saturday — booted a 57-yarder in the second quarter. The 59-yarder was Miami’s longest punt since Justin Vogel kicked a 63-yarder in 2016.
Central Michigan: Returns to Mid-American play at Western Michigan next Saturday.
Miami: Off next week, then returns to ACC play Oct. 5 at home against Virginia Tech.