Clemson sophomore running back Reggie Meriweather - 20 carries, 114 rushing yards and three touchdowns - scored on a 1 yard run over right tackle to give the Tigers (5-4) a 24-17 overtime victory over the No. 11 Hurricanes (6-2).
After the Hurricanes elected to play defense to start OT, Clemson's Duane Coleman was stopped for no gain on first down. But UM defensive back Kelly Jennings was flagged for pass interference on a Charlie Whitehurst pass to Kelvin Grant in the end zone. Two plays later Meriweather sneaked in for the winning score.
Miami had a chance to send the game to a second overtime, but feel short. After Brock Berlin - 22 for 46 with 245 yards - connected with Roscoe Parrish to give the Hurricanes a first and goal Tyrone Moss added a five yard run. But Berlin followed with two consecutive incompletions before a fourth down pass to Lance Leggett was knocked down by Tye Hill in the end zone.
Merriweather's score touched off a wild celebration on the Clemson sidelines, while several Miami players laid on the field in shock. The Hurricanes, losers of two straight games, are all but out of national title contention and likely facing a December bowl appearance.
The Tigers have won four straight games.
"We looked like a totally different team in the second half. I just told them that in the second half they made plays and we didn't - simple as that," said Coker. "I told them this would test us because we haven't lost too many football games.
Still smarting from last week's defeat at the hands of North Carolina, Miami didn't waste time to find the end zone after receiving the opening kickoff. Berlin, who entered the contest with 13 touchdown passes and 1,111 passing yards, found Frank Gore for a 23-yard pass completion on the Hurricanes
After allowing 100 points and 1492 total yards in the last three games, including 545 against the Tar Heels, the Hurricanes defense made a quick statement by forcing a punt on Clemson's first offensive possession.
The Hurricanes had a chance to extend their lead thanks to a third-down conversion after the Tigers closed to 17-10 with 8:00 remaining in the third quarter, but Miami could not advance the ball past the Clemson 38-yard-line.
Down 10-0 the Tigers responded with an eight-play, 43-yard drive that culminated with a Jad Dean 48-yard field goal. It appeared Clemson's offense was beginning to find their stride on the ensuing drive as Whitehurst connected with Curtis Baham for 18 yards into Miami territory. But facing a third - and - nine two plays later Baraka Atkins sacked Whitehurst to force a punt.
The last time they were in the Orange Bowl the Tigers won the national championship.
"Well it's a special place for Clemson because - the last time in here - they won a national championship," said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. "It's a big victory for our program and hopefully a sign of things to come for the rest of the season.
The Hurricanes visit Virginia next Saturday in Charlottesville.
Canes Fall 24-17 in Overtime
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