The Miami slide continues.
Receiver Kevin Coleman scored on a 58-yard pass from quarterback Jack Plummer with 4:17 left Saturday to seal a 38-31 victory for No. 9 Louisville over the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium and propel the Cardinals to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
On Miami’s final play from midfield, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke heaved a Hail Mary that Xavier Restrepo caught at the 5-yard line when time ran out in UM’s last home game of 2023.
“Obviously, you gotta chuck it up and pray,’’ said Van Dyke, who was starting for the first time since being benched last week at Florida State. “We made a play. I was hoping maybe he would have snuck into the end zone there. I feel like I could have gotten a little more on that and put a little more into the end zone — but didn’t, so...’’
The Hurricanes (6-5, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have lost three straight, must win one of their next two games to guarantee a winning season. The Cardinals (10-1, 7-1), ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff rankings, will meet No. 4 Florida State on Dec. 2 in the ACC Football Championship Game in Charlotte.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end,’’ UM coach Mario Cristobal said. “We found ourselves in a situation where we had a chance to take control of the game. It kept going back and forth. Good fight. Good effort.’’
Added Cristobal, crediting Louisville’s offense: “Close isn’t good enough. They did some things that were very challenging, but got to find a way to get better...’’
The Canes tied the score at 31 on a 51-yard field goal by Andres Borregales with 5:34 left, but the Cards scored the game-winning touchdown less than a minute-and-a-half later.
After Louisville’s final touchdown, UM drove down the field, aided by a 48-yard pass to Restrepo, and had three shots to score from the 3-yard line — all incomplete passes.
Van Dyke finished 24 of 39 (61.5 percent) for 327 yards and one touchdown. After throwing 11 interceptions in his previous five games, he steered clear of any mistakes, scrambling at times before throwing the ball away.
UM gained 486 yards, its most since the Sept. 23 Temple game.
The defense was not nearly as stout as it had been recently, allowing 470 yards, including 308 passing yards from quarterback Jack Plummer, who threw for three touchdowns.
“I just looked at the whole perspective of things,’’ Van Dyke said, “and understood that playing quarterback at the University of Miami is a blessing. Just have fun with it. I feel like that was the key. ...On top of that, prepare as best as I can. Was just seeing a lot of things a lot better today.
“Obviously, the last whatever weeks it was I haven’t taken care of the football. It comes down to decision-making, ripping the football and being smart with it.’’
UM true freshman running back Mark Fletcher had 17 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard run that led to the 1-yard score that gave UM a 28-23 lead with 5:48 left in the third quarter.
“I’m happy how I’m doing individually,’’ Fletcher said. “But the standard at Miami is to win. I’m just a big team guy no matter what I do individually. I just want to win. And we didn’t do that today..
“It’s pretty frustrating,’’ Fletcher said, when asked about being unable to finish after having a chance to beat two top-10 teams in the fourth quarter. “We’re close, we’re close. We just got to get over this hump. Very frustrating though, to know that we’re so close. It’s like our heads are at the roof and just can’t bust through.
“But we’re getting there. ...I’m pretty sure the fans, everybody can see that the talent is everywhere. But we just have to execute. We know what we’re made of.’’
Restrepo also had a great day, catching eight passes for a career-best 193 yards and a touchdown.
The scoring was fast and furious in the opening quarter, with the teams knotted at 14 when it ended.
After UM went three-and-out on its opening drive, Louisville culminated its 69-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Plummer to Nate Kurisky at 8:02. Plummer’s passes of 18 and 23 yards carried the Cards down the field to the UM 9, before they scored two plays later.
The Canes went into efficient mode on third down in Miami’s ensuing drive: an 11-yard completion from Van Dyke to Restrepo; a 43-yard completion to Jacolby George in stride; and, finally, a bulldozing, tackle-busting, 21-yard touchdown run by Fletcher to make it 7-7 at 6:07.
Louisville took over, but UM safety Kam Kinchens ran to his right on second down to intercept Plummer’s pass, and the Canes got efficient again. Van Dyke hit Restrepo for 30, Fletcher rushed for 5, and after an incompletion, Van Dyke hit Restrepo again for the 15-yard touchdown. Restrepo caught the ball at the 13 and leaped over a pile of Cardinals at the goal line.
UM 14, Louisville 7 at 3:17 of the first quarter.
The Cards charged right back to tie it at 14 with 18 seconds left in the first quarter, but UM wasn’t about to stop. Van Dyke threw six consecutive completions, then gave the ball to Fletcher for three rushes. At second-and 10 from the Cardinals 34, slot receiver Brashard Smith’s reverse ended with the 34-yard score to put Miami up 21-14 midway through the second quarter.
Next, it was Louisville’s turn — except that UM’s defense stopped the Cards three times from the UM 7, before kicker Brock Travelstead went wide right on a 24-yard field-goal attempt.
UM went three-and-out, and Louisville answered with an 11-yard touchdown drive that ended with eight seconds left in the half and UM leading 21-20 because Miami’s Jared Harrison-Hunte blocked Travelstead’s extra-point attempt.
Louisville changed kickers in the second half, and it paid off when Nick Lopez’s 40-yard field goal put the Cards ahead 23-21 at 11:28 of the third quarter.
Fletcher’s 54-yarder set up a go-ahead UM touchdown for a 28-23 lead. Miami took that lead into the fourth quarter but the Cardinals took a 31-28 lead — punctuated by a two-point conversion from Plummer to Jamari Thrash — with 11:02 left.
The Canes will meet Boston College on the road at noon Friday (ABC) in their final regular-season game, before playing in a yet-to-be-announced bowl.
“It’s tough. It’s definitely tough,’’ defensive tackle Branson Deen said. “Hard on you after the game. But as you guys know, man, next week comes quick. We gotta move on, we gotta keep pushing.”