It wasn't pretty. It didn't look good. As a matter of fact, you could say that Virginia looked like the better team than Miami for a majority of this game. They out gained the Hurricanes 318 to 265. They were 9 of 18 on third down while the Hurricanes offense was just 2-10. But the Hurricanes found a way to win a 17-9 game against #20 Virginia in a must-win situation . Falling to 0-3 in the conference would have almost certainly eliminated the Canes from any shot at Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.
Here’s how it happened:
What a start it was for the Miami Hurricanes. After a disappointing first quarter in last weekends game against Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes, behind quarterback N’Kosi Perry who replaced an injured Jarren Williams, came out strong with an 11 play 78-yard drive that was capped off by a 17-yard Deejay Dallas touchdown catch on a screen. The extra point was kicked by Turner Davidson, who replaced Bubba Baxa as the field goal kicker in this game.
The Hurricanes defense responded in a big way, forcing a three and out on the ensuing drive. Greg Rousseau stuffed a 4th and 1 rush attempt by Virginia running back Wayne Taulapapa that gave the Hurricanes the ball back, but the Hurricanes failed to do anything else offensively.
The Cavaliers got the ball back with 11:59 remaining in the second and went on a 13 play 54-yard drive that took up nine minutes of the second quarter, but the Hurricanes defense remained firm. Senior DT Pat Bethel blocked a field goal attempt that haunted Virginia’s long drive.
Third down remained a concern for the Canes defense, but they managed to give up just three points in the first half despite being out gained 176 to 98 and allowing Virginia quarterback Byrce Perkins to total 152 total yards.
All-American cornerback Byrce Hall also left the game in the second quarter with an injury that caused him to be carted off the field. Virginia players knelt in prayer and Miami Hurricanes players such as K.J. Osborn, Deejay Dallas, Mike Harley, Trajan Bandy, and a couple more approached the cart to send off Hall with respect.
Virginia came out for their second drive of the second half and it was looking like a good one. They were putting together a six play drive that was surely going to result in points, but Trajan Bandy recovered a fumble by Virginia’s Mike Hollins on Miami’s own 20 but the Hurricanes, once again, couldn't capitalize. After giving the ball back to Virginia, Gurvan Hall stopped a 3rd down on Miami’s 1, halting a 12 play 64-yard drive to just a FG to keep a 7-6 lead.
And if Miami couldn't find momentum in any of their other chances, they certainly did in the drive following the big play by Hall.
Perry connected with redshirt senior wide out K.J. Osborn on three consecutive plays totaling 33-yards before hitting Brevin Jordan for a screen that he took 35-yards to the Miami 7-yard line.
A Cam’Ron Harris run, missed opportunity to Osborn for a fade in the back of the end zone, and a questionable running play to Jordan forced the drive to result in just three points. They were Miami’s first points since the opening drive of the game.
Just when you thought things were turning in the Hurricanes favor, Virginia’s top play maker and return man Joe Reed takes the kickoff 72-yards only to be stopped by true freshman corner Christian Williams. But that’s all it would be.
The seven play drive resulted in no yards and Greg Rousseau strip sacked the quarterback Perkins, who recovered the ball. The drive resulted in a 44-yard field goal bringing the Cavaliers within a point with 7:39 left in the fourth.
When the Hurricanes got the ball back, it felt like they had finally found what they had been looking for on offense. After taking the ball into the red zone the drive prior, they put together a 10 play 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 3-yard scramble by Perry for a touchdown that sealed the game for the Hurricanes.
Nothing Virginia did on offense gave them a chance to finish this game off and they failed to get into the end zone the whole night, despite making three trips to the red zone.
Miami was really able to cap off this game in the fourth quarter. They got in a rhythm on offense and were able to put up 10 points on 147 yards while allowing just 16.
Also holding Virginia to just three sacks was a key figure in this game. They came into the game ranked #2 nationally in sacks per game with 4.8.
Miami is back in action next Saturday against Georgia Tech in a noon kickoff to continue ACC play.
Greg Rousseau: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF
N’Kosi Perry: 16-27 182 yards 1 TD
K.J. Osborn: 4 rec 60 yards
Trajan Bandy: 6 tackles, 1 sack