Duke Johnson punched in the game-winner with :53 remaining. Two plays later Antonio Crawford intercepted Tanner Price to seal Miami's 24-21 comeback win over Wake Forest, capping off a week where the Hurricanes went through the ringer according to head coach Al Golden.
"We fought, found a way to win the end and just happy to move on now," Golden told ESPN's Shelley Smith before exiting the field on Saturday as No. 7 Miami moved to 7-0 for the first time since 2003.
Golden called his Canes "emotionally spent" days after the book was finally closed on a two-plus year NCAA investigation and for Miami, capped by a third straight comeback when trailing at the half.
Cardiac Canes Continue to Find a Way
This is not the first time the Canes have needed a great fourth quarter to lock up a win against an unranked opponent. In week 6 Miami found itself down 17-7 to Georgia Tech before storming back for a 45-30 victory. Nine days ago in Chapel Hill, the Canes overcame a 23-13 early fourth quarter deficit to come away with a win In both cases the Hurricanes stayed cool, showed grit and continued believe—a trait that continues to trickle down from mentor to pupil, courtesy of the steadfast Golden.
A year ago it was Notre Dame in survival mode week-after week. Michigan. Stanford. BYU. Pitt. Style points were rarely in effect, but hard-fought wins piled up and by season's end the Fighting Irish rode their late-game luck all the way to the national championship game.
While Notre Dame laid a blueprint for the unranked, preseason underdog, Miami and "national championship" have no business being in the same sentence in late October—and the Hurricanes would agree.
"It doesn't matter," Johnson told Susan Miller Degnan and The Miami Herald weeks back, regarding an early October jump into the Top 10. "All that could be gone with one mistake, one game, and that's something we're trying not to pay too much attention to. If we lose a Coastal [Division] game, all that doesn't mean anything."
Wake Forest (4-4) didn't look like a formidable foe entering the week, but after a hectic and exhausting week, the Hurricanes were battling more demons than just the Deacons. The Canes slow start, can easily be blamed on the emotional hangover following the NCAA's ruling on Tuesday.
Get it Going Early
Survival mode worked for Miami in the past three ACC showdowns, but come November 2 the Canes will face completely different beast in Florida State. The Seminoles are playing their best football in over a decade and have pounced on the competition early, no matter who the foe.
Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest all provided some wiggle room, and for a Miami program that's been through the ringer emotionally, the slow starts were forgivable thanks to late-game rallies. Simply put, that won't work against the Noles. The Canes need their best 60 minutes of the season if they are going to have a chance.
"The week speaks for itself and to top it off with this," Golden told Smith moments after Saturday's win. "Just want the guys to get some rest tonight. We'll wake up tomorrow and it will be Florida State week."
No. 5 Notre Dame got it's signature win on the road against No. 8 Oklahoma in Norman late October last season. No. 7 Miami gets it's season-defining, title-chasing moment against No. 3 Florida State next week.
Come tomorrow, no more looking ahead as all focus finally shifts towards the Seminoles.
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog.com
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