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RALEIGH, N.C. (HurricaneSports.com)-- The theme of Miami’s win over NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday? True.
True as in true freshmen, who made plays all over the field for the Hurricanes in an 27-13 victory that extended the team’s winning streak to three straight games.
Malek Young recorded his first career interception to shift momentum in favor of Miami early in the second half. Shaq Quarterman led all Hurricanes with 10 tackles. Linebacker Michael Pinckney added six tackles in another impressive performance. And defensive end Joe Jackson increased his tackle for loss total to 8.5.
But it was receiver Ahmmon Richards who stole the show, breaking Michael Irvin’s 31-year-old freshman receiving record in a nine-catch performance in front of 56,263 fans.
Richards, who entered the game with 732 yards, totaled 117 yards to move past Irvin’s 840 for the most by a freshman in Miami history. His 849 yards this season already ranks 10th most in Miami history, with two more games remaining – the Hurricanes’ home finale on Nov. 26 against Duke and a to-be-determined bowl game.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Mark Walton rushed for 120 yards to record the third straight 1,000 yard season by a Miami rusher and first of his career.
Miami (7-4, 4-3 ACC) scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the second half to take a 17-3 lead, and held on to win for the first time in Raleigh since 2004.
Miami needed just three plays and 55 seconds to break a 3-3 deadlock on the opening drive of the second half. Kaaya hit Walton for 19 yards on a screen and got 15 added on a personal foul. A 11-yard completion to Ricahrds put Miami on the NC State 30-yard line, and Walton took the next carry 30 yards for a touchdown to give the Hurricanes a 10-3 lead.
NC State (5-6, 2-5 ACC) looked poise to respond, and drove all the way to the Miami 12. But quarterback Ryan Finley was pressured by Trent Harris on a 3rd-and-8 play, resulting in Young’s pick in the end zone.
The Hurricanes took the ensuing drive 80 yards in seven plays, with Walton capping it off on a 1-yard touchdown run to take a two-score lead.
Walton's 24-yard touchdown rush on Miami's second-to-last drive sealed the victory. The touchdown was his third of the game.
Junior quarterback Brad Kaaya finished 22-for-38 for 286 yards, 117 of those to Richards, who delivered his third straight 100-yard performance and fourth of his budding career.
A defensive slugfest in the first half saw nine total punts and just a field goal per team, with a halftime score of 3-3.
The two offenses entered the game averaging a combined 841 yards per game, but totaled just 308 yards in the first half (186 by Miami).
The Hurricanes opened the scoring on a 31-yard field goal by junior kicker Michael Badgley with 5:05 remaining in the first quarter.
After a three-and-out on its first series, the Miami offense moved 67 yards in 12 plays in a drive that chewed 5:46 off the clock. Richards caught three passes on the drive, but an incomplete pass from Kaaya to Dayall Harris stalled the series on the NC State 13-yard line.
Miami's defense dominated the first quarter, holding the Wolfpack offense - which entered the game averaging 422.2 yards per game - to just 30 total yards.
The Hurricanes defense forced the Wolfpack into three-and-outs on three of its first four drives and did not allow a third-down conversion until NC State’s sixth drive – which resulted in a game-tying field goal by Connor Haskins.
The hosts finished the game 5-for-17 on third down, while Miami finished 5-for-14.
Miami nearly took the lead on the final drive of the first half, driving 74 yards all the way to the Wolfpack 6. But Badgley misses a 23-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds left, as the score remained 3-3.