Miami hadn’t won in Charlottesville, VA since 2008. That changed today when the Canes beat the Virginia Cavaliers 34-14 on Saturday afternoon.
The game had an inauspicious start for Miami. After an early stop, QB Brad Kaaya’s pass on the first play from scrimmage towards Christopher Herdon was juggled and ultimately intercepted by UVa. The Cavaliers would ultimately cash that turnover in with a 2 yard TD run by Taquan Mizzel to take a 7-0 lead.
Miami came right back and responded, however. Miami took their 2nd offensive drive 75 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a Joseph Yearby 10 yard run to tie the game at 7. Miami kept the momentum going, adding a 40 yard Michael Badgley FG and a 7 yard TD pass from Kaaya to TE David Njoku to extend the lead to 17-7.
For their part, Virginia would not go away. The Cavaliers scored a touchdown on the drive after Njoku’s score, with QB Kurt Benkert hitting WR David Eldridge for a 13 yard score.
That TD represented the last points of the first half, and gave us out 17-14 halftime score.
Miami put together a nice drive to start the 2nd half, but it ended up stalling deep in Virginia territory. Michael Badgley hit his 2nd FG of the day, this one from 43 yards out, to extend Miami’s lead to 20-14 early in the 3rd Quarter.
Miami got a turnover on the ensuing drive, with Corn Elder hitting Benkert from the blindside and forcing a fumble, which was recovered by freshman phenom DE Joe Jackson. Miami could do nothing with it, however, as the drive — which started at the 50 — stalled at the 37, and K Michael Badgley missed a 50 yard FG, leaving the score at 20-14.
After getting a stop, Miami’s offense turned to the big play to change the scoreboard. Brad Kaaya hit WR Ahmmon Richards on a stop route, then Richards made a man miss then turned on the jets en route to a 77 yard score. You wanna see that one.
And just like that, Miami was up 27-14 and looking to put Virginia away.
The teams traded punts, with Virginia getting great field position at the Miami 40. Things went awry for the Cavs, though, as the drive stalled, the punter fumbled the snap. DE Trent Harris recovered the ball that the UVA 39, giving Miami a chance to put the game away.
Miami did just that, leaning on the run game to cover 39 yards in 4 plays, capped off by a Mark Walton 15 yard touchdown run, which he ended by running over 2 UVa defenders. Man sized run from #1 for Miami, there. And, just like that, the Canes were up 34-14 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
Miami’s defense, which stiffened significantly in the 2nd half, continued to show their dominance on the next possession. DE Joseph Jackson forced a fumble, which was recovered by LB Darrion Owens at the Virginia 48. That kid Joseph Jackson? Yeah, he’s pretty good.
Miami was unable to finish the ensuing drive, electing to go for it on 4th and 5 from the 26 and being stopped. Virginia used this opening to try to make a dent in the scoreboard. Backup QB Matt Johns led the Cavaliers down the field into the redzone, but Virginia stalled and was unable to convert a 4th down play. With just under 4 minutes remaining, the score remained Miami 34 Virginia 14.
Miami looked to run the clock out, but Joseph Yearby fumbled the ball, and Virginia recovered deep in Miami territory. Virginia, however, would fumble the ball right back to Miami, which was recovered by Corn Elder, to finish their last drive.
Miami came onto the field to kneel on the ball, running out the clock, and securing the victory.
For Miami, the 2nd half adjustment yielded 17 points on offense, and shut out Virginia on defense. The team played hard all the way to the end, and earned their 6th win of the year.
Now bowl eligible, Miami looks to close the year with 2 more wins at North Carolina State and home vs Duke in the season finale. Those 2 wins would put Miami at 8-4, and in position for a solid mid-tier bowl game.
It wasn’t the cleanest game ever, especially in the first half, but a road win is a road win, and I’ll take it.
On to North Carolina State we go.