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Final Score: Virginia 41 Miami 40. 'Canes drop a heartbreaker in Charlottesville.

Duke Johnson did it all for Miami, but the defense could not close out the game and the Hurricanes lost to Virginia 41-40.

Geoff Burke

Virginia got right to work after receiving the opening kick off. Miami's run defense was stout, but on third and long they had no answers in the middle of the field. The 'Hoos got on the board with a short inside pass from Michael Rocco to Miles Gooch from 7 yards out, again in the middle of the field. Miami answered with a long drive of their own. Sparked by Duke Johnson's long runs, the 'Canes evened the score when Johnson hit Allen Hurns in the corner of the end zone on a halfback option play. It appeared Miami would get the highly elusive defensive stop on UVA's second possession, but a suspicious defensive holding penalty kept things alive. A few plays later and Rocco hit Darius Jennings to regain the lead. A lead that would not last long.

On the proceeding kickoff Duke fielded the ball at his own 5. He worked his way toward the right sideline and made a quick cut. Spotting another opening just to his left, he hop-stepped his way through traffic, picked up some nice blocks and burst down the sideline for a spectacular TD. The score at that point Duke Johnson 14, Virginia 14.

The emotion of Johnson's return was short-lived for 'Cane fans. Back-up QB Philip Sims came into the game and engineered another quick score, capping it by calling his own number from 6 yards out to retake the lead. UM was again behind as an eventful 1st quarter concluded.

Miami evened the score, and eventually even took a brief lead in the 2nd. Stephen Morris hit Hurns from 12 yards out, and following an INT by Brandon McGee, Jake Wieclaw connected from 30 to give UM a 24-21 advantage. But just like that, it vanished again as Virginia moved the ball with ease and and Kevin Parks capped yet another long drive with a 3 yard TD run.

In the 3rd quarter the defenses made a brief appearance. But Johnson got back to breaking long runs with regularity and nice strike from Morris to Clive Walford put Miami out in front. Despite the fact that Rocco nor Sims could not miss, Miami somehow held UVA scoreless in the third.

Using a short field, the Canes built the lead to 38-28 in the 4th when Morris connected on a perfect 35 yard bomb to Phillip Dorsett. The 'Canes appeared to be in control. But Rocco kept coming, and the D just couldn't cover the middle of the field. The team was obviously missing injured stars MLB Denzel Perryman, and S Deon Bush, as well as OLB Eddie Johnson (suspended). Another TD pass for Rocco to Jennings cut the lead to three. Miami caught a break when Rocco spun his way into the pass rush and got caught in no man's land for a safety by intentional grounding. Up 5 and with the ball with 5 minutes remaining, the Hurricanes played it conservative and gave UVA the ball back with under 3 to go deep in their own territory. As he had all day Rocco picked the defense apart in the middle of the field. UM nearly escaped, by a questionable holding penalty on the defense kept the drive alive. Eventually Rocco hit Jake McGee in the back of the end zone (again middle of the field) for the game-winner.

Miami nearly overcame the absence of 3 missing defensive starters, and Duke Johnson (16 carries 150 yards, 1 TD passing, 1 return TD) played the best game of his young promising career, but they still find themselves at 5-5. Yet somehow they remain in 1st place in the ACC Coastal. In an odd season, UM fans have to be asking,

"What's next?!?!"

Miami hosts South Florida next weekend 11/17, time TBA.