The first quarter of Thursday night’s ACC game may have come at a cost for Miami. Running back Duke Johnson took a knee to the head on a play and was sent to the locker room. He was later reported to be done for the game, leaving Miami without their top offensive player with three quarters still to play. It got worse for Miami, who trails UNC at halftime by a score of 17-14.
Later in the first quarter the Hurricanes lost wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who took an awkward helmet shot to his left leg and needed to be assisted off the field, although he did walk under his own power. He was also reported to be done for the night as well and returned to the sideline out of uniform and on crutches before halftime. Dorsett is Miami’s third-leading receiver this season and provided one of the top offensive highlights of the night by hauling in a 68-yard pass from Stephen Morris.
As far as the scoreboard was concerned, Miami had to settle for two field goals and trailed North Carolina at the end of the first quarter, 7-6. North Carolina’s offense had been thriving on the play of tight end Eric Ebron, who quickly went over 100 yards. While Bryn Renner has been leading the offense for most of the night, it was Marquise Williams who came in and connected with Ebron, who broke away from defenders and sprinted down the right sideline for a 71-yard touchdown.
It would be the special teams that gave Miami a lead early in the second quarter though, when North Carolina had a field goal blocked. Miami’s Ladarius Gunter returned the blocked kick 67 yards for a touchdown.
North Carolina took back the lead later in the second quarter when Renner completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis.
The Tar Heels may have Miami on the ropes. The defense has forced Morris to make some poor throws and without Johnson and Dorsett, the Miami offense needs to see some players step up to fill those roles consistently. If Miami can get by this week given the ay this first half has played out, they should feel very fortunate.