D’Eriq King threw three touchdown passes and No. 17 Miami used big plays to beat No. 18 Louisville 47-34 on Saturday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
King threw a 75-yarder touchdown pass to Jaylon Knighton in the third quarter, a series after Cam’Ron Harris ran 75 yards for a score on the way to finishing with 134 yards on nine carries.
Miami (2-0) led 20-6 at halftime before Louisville (1-1) scored twice in a wild third to get within seven. The Hurricanes answered both TDs on their next snap with an unbalanced look against an out-of-place defense, with Knighton wide open for his catch that made it 34-20. Knighton also had a 3-yard TD run in the first half after King threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Will Mallory.
The ‘Canes had 10 chunk plays of at least 18 yards, including seven passing.
“We talked about creating more explosive plays through the passing game, which we were able to do,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said, “but we obviously had some through the running game, as well. We can still be so much better. The explosive plays, it was who we wanted to be.”
Said Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, “Just too many big plays. Two two-play drives that went for six. You gotta at least make the offenses drive the ball.”
King also hit Brevin Jordan (seven catches, 120 yards) with a 47-yard TD pass in the fourth to finish with 325 yards on 18-of-30 passing. That spoke volumes about his protection, which allowed the dual-threat QB time to scout the defense and find receivers who were often open.
So much so that King’s nine yards rushing on eight carries were just a footnote on a night his arm helped lead an 86-yard TD drive and three others of 75.
“The offensive line played a great game,” he said. “They allowed me to sit in the pocket and throw the ball, and we did pretty good.”
Jose Borregales added four field goals, including first-half kicks of 48 and 57 yards, with the latter breaking the Cardinal Stadium record for an opponent by 6 yards and the overall mark by 5.
Louisville’s Micale Cunningham passed for 307 yards and three TDs, two to Tutu Atwell, and Javian Hawkins had a 19-yard TD run and finished with 164 yards on 27 carries. But the Cardinals couldn’t stop Miami for much of the game and lost their second in a row to the ‘Canes despite outgaining them 516-485.
“It was extremely frustrating,” Louisville linebacker C.J. Avery said of allowing explosive plays. “We just didn’t have an edge, and they did like a pop pass and guys didn’t do their job, didn’t take their man. It was really on us not doing our job.”
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 12,120.
Miami converted 6 of 13 third-down chances, including several in the first half that helped provide a lead it never lost. Louisville on other hand was just 4 of 14, though it was 3 of 4 on fourth down.
About 40 protesters seeking the arrest of Louisville police in the death of Breonna Taylor during a March narcotics raid demonstrated briefly outside Cardinal Stadium before the game. A Louisville athletic spokesman said they left after kickoff and there were no arrests.
Miami confirmed that quarterback Tate Martell has opted out of playing this season. He transferred from Ohio State last season and played in five games.
Already ranked sooner than some expected, Miami figures to move up after an impressive road win. The loss could drop Louisville or out of the poll completely.
Miami: The Hurricanes scored on four consecutive drives in both halves, demonstrating their offensive dominance. King showed the passing skills expected of him after transferring from Houston, even with a 74-yard completion wiped out by a holding penalty. The defense struggled at times against the Cardinals’ speedy playmakers but forced two turnovers that forced them to play catchup.
Louisville: Aiming to atone for last year’s 52-27 drubbing in south Florida, the Cardinals instead let another early lead slip away fast. The defense reverted to last season’s tendency to allow big plays and appeared completely flummoxed yielding those TDs that sapped momentum after getting within a touchdown.
Miami hosts in-state rival Florida State on Saturday, seeking its fourth consecutive win over the Seminoles.
Louisville visits Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Cardinals lost the previous meeting 45-34 in 2015 to fall to 8-9 against the Panthers.