One small step for Miami, one giant leap for Cane-kind.
No doubt about it: “The Rock” was absolutely rockin’ and the Miami Hurricanes rode a surprisingly creative offense and a smothering defense to overrun the Virginia Tech Hokies, 28-10, and take a commanding lead in the ACC Coastal race.
Despite turning the ball over three times, their most of the season, and another Malik Rosier cold start, the Canes were able to overcome with 4 turnovers of their own, capping an amazing win to put the ACC and the nation on notice: this is a team to be reckoned with.
In their most complete game, against their toughest opponent, of the season, the Canes were finally able to put the game on auto-pilot in the fourth quarter after 4 straight nail-biters. 429 total yards on offense, while the defense held a previously explosive VT offense under 300 yards, the first time the Hokies have finished under that goal this season. Yeah, that’ll do.
Rosier had a 5-12 for 77 yards stat line at halftime but was picked up by: (1) a UM defense that wouldn’t quit, racking up 3 sacks before the half; and (2) a Travis Homer 64 yard TD burst to take a 14-3 lead into the locker room. Homer would finish with 95 yards on 14 carries and the TD, while the defense ended with 4 sacks and 8 TFL.
For all his slow starts, Rosier usually picks it up in the final half and with so much momentum, you’d think the Canes, a second half team this year, were set up perfectly. Not so, as Rosier threw picks on back-to-back drives coming out of the half, and the Hokies turned one of the interceptions into a Josh Jackson QB sneak touchdown.
With all of the momentum swinging back VT’s way, UM fans started to feel a little uneasy: “Not again”, you probably thought.
This would be Miami’s night, though. They couldn’t be held back.
Rosier leaned on his top three receivers to make plays and his corps did not let him down. Chris Herndon caught a short out route, slipped a tackle, and was off to the races for a 43 yard TD to put Miami up 21-10. Two drives later, Ahmmon Richards blew past a safety and came free to make a sliding 42 yard grab inside the Tech 20, setting up a Rosier TD run to all but end the Hokies’ comeback hopes early in the fourth quarter. And Braxton Berrios put together maybe the best performance of all that went way beyond the box score: 3 catches for 50 yards, a touchdown grab, a 9 yard rush, a 17 yard completion, great downfield blocking, and solid catches on the punt team.
The real nail in the coffin, though? When true freshman DE Jon Garvin broke free off the edge with 7 minutes remaining and put together the Golden Hat Trick: sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery. Game. Blouses.
Miami is now in prime position to lock up the ACC Coastal, and can do so with a Virginia loss to Louisville next week. They won’t be able to take the division crown on their own though, as they play out of conference against some Catholic team next week: #3 Notre Dame at home.
The Hokies started with the ball to begin the game. Travon McMillan shot through the line on the first play from scrimmage and picked up 12. Miami’s defense stiffened up after that and forced the VT offense off the field, though.
Taking over at their own 22, UM surprised the Hokies with some creativity on offense, running a jet sweep to Braxton Berrios for 9 yards, then, on a reverse, Berrios threw back to Malik Rosier running up the right sideline uncovered for a pick up of 17. Is Jon Richt calling these plays? Back-to-back false starts had Miami in first and long; after an incompletion, Rosier found Berrios on a skinny post down the middle for a gain of 24.
Another Rosier incompletion brought up 2nd-and-10 from the VT 38. Then, Rosier pulled it down and took off, racing up the middle and sprinting to the outside with a great block from Berrios. Rosier stretched out for the pylon, but just stepped out at the 2 yard line. The worst goal line team in America lived up to its reputation, and 3 Miami plays went nowhere, including another throwback to Rosier, this time from DeeJay Dallas. On fourth-and-goal from the 2, Miami tried a toss to Travis Homer; it went nowhere for a loss of 3 and the Hokies took over on downs.
The Hokies moved the ball fairly well, picking up 2 first downs, but their drive stalled after an Amari Carter sack on 3rd down. A VT punt and a Miami unsportsmanlike conduct would push the ball back to the UM 15. Ahmmon Richards picked up a first on a 3rd-and-7, but Dallas was stopped short of the sticks on the ensuing down and distance, bringing out Zach Feagles to punt it away.
The Hokies couldn’t move the ball much on their next possession though, and wound up kicking it back to UM. That’s when Miami opened up the scoring. A 9 play 87 yard drive was set up by a Homer screen for 20 yards and two PI calls against VT. Then, on 3rd-and-3 from the VT 8, Rosier found Berrios on a quick slant for a touchdown. 7-0 Miami.
Update: QB Malik Rosier to WR Braxton Berrios. First Touchdown tonight! @CanesFootball— New Era Prep (@EraPrep) November 5, 2017
VTech 0 pic.twitter.com/XG0XgoaZ5Y
Spurred by a Kendrick Norton sack, the Hokies went 3-and-out. That’s when Homer did his thang. Out of the shotgun, Rosier handed off to Homer up the middle, and Homer broke a tackle, stayed on his feet, and out-ran the VT defense for a 64 yard TD. 14-0 UM.
WATCH: Travis Homer Races 64 Yards For Touchdown https://t.co/uu4DgReqPj via @CBSSports— Bill Frazier (@bfrazier65) November 5, 2017
On their next drive, the Hokies would finally get on the board with a 10 play 41 yard drive. Mixing up the run with Josh Jackson, Deshawn McClease, and McMillan, the Hokies ground game took the ball to the UM 27. On third down, Jackson went to pitch to McClease, but he couldn’t handle the toss, and the ball bounced backwards 7 yards before McClease fell on it. Tech had to settle for a long field goal, but VT kicker Joey Slye knocked it through the uprights. 14-3 Miami.
With about 2 minutes remaining in the half, Rosier and the offense took the field. A DeeJay Dallas 19 yard run got UM to mid-field. The drive would quickly end, though, as Rosier tried to go up top to Jeff Thomas, but VT corner Adonis Alexander skied for the interception.
The Hokies took over at their own 33 yard line and pushed the ball down the field riding the arm of Jackson, who was 4-4 for 53 yards on the drive. However, on a jailbreak screen, receiver Sean Savoy had the ball knocked free. The pigskin skied in the air and bounced right into the arms of RJ McIntosh, who rumbled nearly 40 yards down the sidelines to about mid-field with 12 seconds still on the clock for the half. Trying to get in field goal range, Rosier dropped back to pass, but was sacked and lost the ball. Miami recovered, but the clock ran out to end the half. Total yards at halftime: UM 255 VT 149.
Rosier threw back-to-back picks out of the gate, one of which led to a VT touchdown on a QB sneak by Jackson. 14-10 UM. On their next drive, the Hokies tried to go for it on fourth and 2 in UM territory, but a bad snap ended any hope of another score.
Taking over at their own 39, UM pushed the ball on a personal foul penalty on VT for slamming Homer into the ground well after the whistle. On the very next play, Rosier threw a quick out route to Chris Herndon, who slipped a tackle and sped down the left sideline for a 43 yard Miami touchdown. 21-10 Canes.
#Canes Captain Herndon with a great catch and even better run for the score... #MiamiHurricanes Touchdown #VTvsMIA pic.twitter.com/EUWrWJWspP— Ion Amel (@BlueReesesPcs) November 5, 2017
After the two teams traded punts, the Hokies were able to push the ball past mid-field and into Miami territory on a 19 yard Cam Phillips catch and run. The drive stalled and the Hokies elected to go for it on fourth again. But what they didn’t realize? It was Turnover Chain time. Jaquan Johnson picked off Jackson and returned the ball to the UM 44 yard line. First down Miami.
Then, Rosier found Richards on a deep post, and Richards made a sliding catch for a 42 yard pickup. On the very next play, Rosier had nothing downfield and took off, scampering into the endzone for a 13 yard touchdown. 28-10 Miami.
#Canes Malik Rosier bounces back with an incredible throw and a monster run for a touchdown. #TurnOverChain #TouchdownCrown pic.twitter.com/BJfjTGalPE— Ion Amel (@BlueReesesPcs) November 5, 2017
A Hokies punt set UM up at their own 28. The Canes were able to bleed some clock on some running plays to Rosier, Homer, and Dallas, picking up two first downs before a Feagles punt.
VT started at their own 5, but got out of the shadow of their own endzone with a 32 yard screen to Phillips. On the very next play, Jon Garvin abused the Hokies left tackle Yosuah Nijman and rocked Jackson as he was winding up to throw. The ball squirted out and it was none other than Garvin on the recovery at the VT 30.
Miami could do nothing with the great field position, but ran the clock down to under 6 minutes left in the game. A Feagles punt into the end zone had VT starting at their own 20, but back-to-back tackles for loss (McIntosh/Joe Jackson and Michael Jackson) led to the Hokies staring down a fourth and two. They picked it up on a Malek Young PI call. After a Joe Jackson sack, Josh Jackson, facing fourth and 17, threw a six yard pass to Phillips, seemingly ending the drive; however, Young was flagged again, this time for a facemask.
A third UM penalty for roughing the passer on McIntosh moved Tech to the Miami 14. But mercifully, Sheldrick Redwine intercepted a Jackson pass in the endzone, ending the game. Final: Miami 28 Virginia Tech 10.
Turnover chain volume 4 with a message...— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 5, 2017
BALL GAME pic.twitter.com/bAJDsVN6EF
**It really was the most complete game of the season in every phase from this team. From holding VT under 300 yards and putting Josh Jackson under siege all night, to big plays from Rosier, Homer, Richards, and Herndon, this Miami team would not be denied. Coach Richt has to be thrilled.
**In what was probably the biggest game for Miami in years, Berrios really stepped up tonight. Clutch catches on tough balls, another TD catch (his 7th in 8 games) a jet sweep for 9 yards, a 17 yard completion, great downfield blocking, and solid play as always receiving punts. Can’t say enough about his play this year, and in his senior season no less.
**Miami’s wide receiver blocking was impeccable all night. Berrios completely bowled over a DB on Rosier’s long run in the first quarter and on Herdon’s TD scamper in the third quarter, it was Richards pushing a DB off the field to spring the play. That’s coaching right there. Props to Ron Dugans.
**The turnover chain coming out 4 times, and especially to lift the team back up when Rosier was turning the ball over like it was going out of style. McIntosh, Redwine, Johnson, and how about the freak JON GARVIN! That strip sack, forced fumble and recovery was a thing of beauty and surely a glimpse into the future of this defense. Verdict? It’s looking very bright.
**The fans really showing up at the Rock and supporting this team was incredible to see. The blackout was in effect, and the crowd got hyped at every key moment in the game. It was probably the best turnout I’ve ever seen at a non-FSU home game at this stadium.
Miami stays at home for a big-time showdown with #3 Notre Dame.
What a game. Enjoy this win Canes fans and that makes 13 straight. Nothing sweeter than shoving it into the face of all the doubters, and the College Football Playoff committee will be taking this team seriously from here on out. I want another great turnout for Catholics vs. Convicts. Let’s turn a great season into a special season.