Miami found themselves trailing almost instantly on Saturday, with Virginia Tech taking the opening drive for a touchdown. The fight and effort that we wanted to see from the team wasn’t there out of the gate, and a quick 7-point deficit was the result. With Michael Pinckney being suspended for the contest, Miami’s defense had taken a hit even before kickoff.
Following a drop by Dee Wiggins on a sure-touchdown, Miami’s offense recovered - answering Virginia Tech’s touchdown with a field goal by Bubba Baxa. Despite trailing, any points are good for Miami’s offense. N’Kosi Perry looked slightly shaky but still managed to deliver dimes into tight windows.
Virginia Tech took a 4-point lead into the second quarter, but the tide would quickly turn following a heads-up interception by Shaquille Quarterman, leading to a one-handed touchdown grab by Darrell Langham on the next play. Miami did something they hadn’t done in previous weeks - cash-in on turnovers. The defense gave the ‘Canes momentum they desperately needed.
Despite forcing a turnover on the previous drive, Miami’s defense allowed Virginia Tech to travel down the field, conceding another touchdown. On Miami’s ensuing drive they were faced with a 3rd and 1, a seemingly easy conversion. However, Mark Richt called a dive directly into the line - a play that Virginia Tech knew was coming. Plays such as that fuel the fans’ calls for a new offensive coordinator.
Following a solid hold by the defense, Miami put together a methodical drive to take a 17-14 lead into halftime. Unlike the previous drive, Miami’s offense looked smooth and composed, with N’Kosi Perry diving into the end zone for the first rushing touchdown of his career. We saw a balanced attack that involved wide-receiver bubble screens and a nice mix of the running game.
Miami’s first drive of the second half didn’t go anywhere, but they were able to find the end zone following a missed field goal by Virginia Tech. Similar to last week, Cam’Ron Davis was able to find a lane and streaked all the way to the end zone, giving Miami a 10-point lead. Following the touchdown, we saw smiles on the faces of Miami’s staff and players, a rare, but encouraging sighting.
More excitement came soon after as Jeff Thomas returned a Virginia Tech punt 51 yards for a touchdown. Leading by 17 now, Miami had a chance to put the game away.
Miami did just that, taking advantage of a great 27-yard return by Jeff Thomas. A 30-yard run by Travis Homer would set up Cam’Ron Davis’ second touchdown of the game, coming on a 16-yard reception. The score not only put the game out of reach, but allowed the team to relax - something they’ve been unable to do in the past 4 weeks.
In conclusion, a win like this is just what Miami needed. We were able to see young players like Cam’Ron Davis get solid playing time, and we saw smiles on the faces of the staff and players. As fans, we can hope that Miami carries this success into the off-season.