CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Dallas Crawford turned in a big performance in relief of Miami's star runner to keep the No. 10 Hurricanes unbeaten.
Crawford had a 3-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left to give Miami a 27-23 victory over North Carolina on Thursday night.
Crawford's short score ended a 90-yard drive by the Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0 ACC), who lost top rusher Duke Johnson to an apparent head injury after taking a knee to the helmet. Crawford finished with 137 yards on 33 carries — surpassing his season totals in both categories — and two touchdowns to help the Hurricanes barely avoid a big upset.
Miami also lost receiver Phillip Dorsett, who like Johnson left in the first half and did not return. Starting safety Kacy Rodgers left early in the first quarter and didn't return with a possible knee injury.
Miami's Stephen Morris threw four interceptions, as many as he had thrown all year, and the defense surrendered a season-high 500 yards against a no-huddle scheme.
But Miami got the stop it needed at the end, when Bryn Renner's final heave into the end zone from the Miami 28 hit a receiver's hands then fell incomplete.
The Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3), who entered the year with hopes of winning the ACC's Coastal Division, are off to their worst start since 2006. They led 23-13 early in the fourth only to see Crawford score twice in the final 11½ minutes.
Eric Ebron had eight catches for 199 yards, a single-game record for a North Carolina tight end, and Quinshad Davis had a touchdown catch.
North Carolina was going for its first win against a top-10 opponent since beating then-No. 4 Miami on a last-second field goal in 2004.
Instead, the Hurricanes are 6-0 for the first time since that season, keeping themselves in prime position in the division race to reach the ACC title game.
Johnson, who came in averaging 114 yards rushing, left in the first quarter after running for 83 yards on eight carries. Then Dorsett suffered an apparent left knee injury on a reverse in that same quarter. He returned to the sideline on crutches late in the first half.
Miami's Ladarius Gunter returned a blocked field goal 67 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Crawford, a 5-foot-10 redshirt sophomore, kept the offense moving even as Morris kept turning the ball over against the Tar Heels' maligned defense.