MIAMI — Giovani Bernard begged about 20 tickets away from North Carolina teammates, giving them to friends and family to see his homecoming. And he rewarded them for their benevolence.
The graduate of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas ran for 177 yards and two first-half touchdowns to help beat Miami 18-14 on Saturday.
"Just being able to play out there with my brothers and out there in my hometown, it's a good feeling," Bernard said. "But the main thing is getting the win."
Bernard scored from 10 yards during the first quarter.
"He's a complete player," UNC coach Larry Fedora said. "It doesn't matter if it's pass blocking, catching the football, running the football, returning kicks. He'll do whatever he can to keep the team in the game."
Miami lost not only the game, but starting quarterback Stephen Morris. The junior, who set an ACC record with 566 passing yards against N.C. State two weeks ago, sustained a left ankle injury midway through the fourth quarter. Morris left the field in a walking boot.
Coach Al Golden said X-rays would be scheduled. And the school said it expects to update his status today.
"He seems to be doing good," said Ryan Williams, who replaced Morris. "I don't know when he'll be back."
Williams led the final drive, which began with 1:47 left at the Hurricanes 17 but ended on downs at the Tar Heels 26.
"It's very tough," said running back Mike James, his head tilted back against a wall. "I mean, this is a tough game to lose."
Tied at 7, a three-play span late in the first half keyed UNC.
On fourth and 6 from the Miami 33, Bryn Renner barely eluded the rush and found Bernard. He made a lunging, shoestring catch and turned it into a 16-yard gain, prompting Miami defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio to punch the air.
Bernard scored from 17 yards. Then the Tar Heels snapped the ball so quickly to punter/holder Tommy Hibbard, lined up in the shotgun, the Hurricanes had only 10 men on the field. That helped him hit Eric Ebron for two points and a 15-7 lead.
"That's the difference," Fedora said of the two-point conversion.
Morris' 5-yard run with 5:06 left in the third capped a 12-play, 94-yard drive and got Miami within 15-13. The Hurricanes appeared ready to go for two points. But they were called for delay of game and settled for the extra point.
Said Golden: "Obviously, we left some plays on the field."