MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — By Miami’s new standards, this game was decided early.
That means with a couple minutes to spare.
Travis Homer’s 33-yard touchdown run with 2:48 left was the latest entry in No. 8 Miami’s growing list of fourth-quarter magic moments this season, and the Hurricanes extended their longest winning streak in 15 years by holding off Syracuse 27-19 on Saturday.
“Well, we found another way to make it really exciting,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “Part of the reason was Syracuse is a really good football team. … We, for some reason, can’t find a way to play really good on both sides of the ball at the same time.”
The Hurricanes (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) needed last-second plays to beat Florida State two weeks ago and Georgia Tech last week. This one wasn’t so down-to-the-wire, but had plenty of drama until Syracuse turned the ball over on downs near midfield with 1:31 left and Miami kneeled three times to run out the clock.
Malik Rosier threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns for Miami, which has won 11 straight and has won its first four ACC games for the first time since joining the league in 2004. Christopher Herndon had a career-best 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown and Jeff Thomas caught a 48-yard TD pass for the Hurricanes, who haven’t had a winning streak this long since winning 34 straight from 2000 to 2002.
“It’s always a good feeling to win,” Homer said. “But seeing your team stay strong and pull through, it’s the best. … We’re 6-0, but that’s not our final goal. That’s not going to get to our head.”
Cole Murphy kicked four field goals for Syracuse (4-4, 2-2), including a career-best 53-yarder with 5:23 left to get the Orange within 20-19. But Miami answered with a nine-play, 85-yard drive capped by Homer’s TD run that helped the Hurricanes escape.
Miami harassed Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey throughout, intercepting four of his first-half passes and holding him to a 13-of-41, 137-yard effort. His last hope was a fourth-and-7 try on the last Orange drive, but his throw to Ervin Philips was incomplete and Syracuse — which topped defending national champion Clemson last week — fell short of pulling off a second straight upset.
“There’s a lot of positives,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “It’s just, it’s hard to swallow when you don’t win. We’re 4-4, we’ve got the toughest schedule in the country and we’re 4-4. And guess what? We’ve got two more on the road and two more at home in the loud house and I guarantee you we’re going to be ready to play those four games.”
Dontae Strickland rushed for 105 yards for the Orange and Moe Neal had a touchdown run for Syracuse. Dungey rushed for 100 yards and Steve Ishmael and Philips — the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 receivers coming into the weekend — were held to nine catches for 98 yards, on 25 targets.
Syracuse: Dungey started 1 for 11. … Syracuse was scoreless in the first quarter, ending a streak of 11 consecutive quarters with points. … The Orange are now 0-8 when facing a top-10 Miami team. … The Orange allowed seven passes of 20 yards or more.
Miami: WR Ahmmon Richards returned from a hamstring issue and had six catches for a team-best 99 yards. … Rosier is now 7-0 as a starter, and completed 26 of 43 passes. … Homer, held in check most of the day, finished with 95 yards. … Punter Zach Feagles had three kicks downed inside the Syracuse 10, including two at the 2-yard line.
Richards hurdled Syracuse’s Rodney Williams in the first half. Dungey tried it twice in the second half — not exactly clearing either Miami’s Sheldrick Redwine or Michael Jackson, but hanging onto the ball both times.
The field at Hard Rock Stadium was resodded earlier this week, and it was less than ideal — which can’t be good news for the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, who play there Sunday. Murphy’s field goal for Syracuse with 8:55 left in the third quarter was good even though he slipped and wound up on his backside, and Miami kicker Michael Badgley tripped on a kickoff earlier in the game.
Syracuse: After a bye, the Orange visit Florida State — which is still seeking its first home win this season — on Nov. 4.
Miami: The Hurricanes play at North Carolina next Saturday in their next-to-last road game of the regular season.