The Miami Hurricanes shook off a sluggish start to hang on at home on Senior day defeating an upset minded Virginia Cavalier’s team 44-28. A third quarter Jaquan Johnson pick-six put Miami in control of the game and they never looked back after scoring 30 second half points and limiting Virginia to only 7 after giving them 28 in the opening half.
The Canes came out extremely sluggish to start the game and conversely, Virginia came out on fire. They were clearly looking to upset the Hurricanes and nearly pulled it off during a noon kickoff following Miami’s previous two home games that started after 8 PM.
In the post game news conference, Miami’s head coach Mark Richt specifically praised Virginia Coach Bronco Mendenhall. Something he’s not done a lot of with consideration to opposing head coaches when speaking to the media post game.
“Without a doubt they were ready to play,” Richt said.
“They just took it to us.” It certainly looked rough for Miami early. The national college football writers were all beginning to pounce.
Miami is choking on its turnover chain.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) November 18, 2017
In the first half Kurk Benkert was 17-18 for 262 yards and the Cavilers scored through the air twice. The scheme was Virginia rolling out their quarterback and tempting Miami defensive backs with peeking into the back field. Benkert began by hitting Olamide Zacchaeus for 33-yards on the first drive. After a fumble on their second offensive possession, the Cavs came back and scored on their third when Benkert hit receiver Joe Reed for a 75-yard bomb.
The Canes would eventually knot the score at 14-14 after a failed onside kick attempt by Virginia after the Reed score failed. Travis Homer picked up 33-yards and that set up an beautiful lob pass to Ahmmon Richards who pulled it down for a touchdown. Two possessions later, the Hurricanes would tie the score after a muffed punt leading to a Dayall Harris 36-yard touchdown reception from Rosier. The junior college product has been featured a lot the past two games and Richt says he’s “really come on,” as of late.
Virginia would add another score after both sides traded punts to go up 21-14 at half. Andre Leverone caught a 33 yard touchdown pass from his quarterback who was red hot on the day. Benkert, who finished the game 28 for 37 for 384 yards and 4 touchdowns and only one interception, was nearly unstoppable but he was one dimensional. Virginia had no run game.
Miami adjusted at the half.
A Michael Badgely field goal late in the third quarter gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game. They took a two score lead on a Malik Rosier rushing touchdown with 4:03 left to play in the game and iced it with a Travis Homer rushing touchdown.
Benkert was held to just one touchdown and 122 yards passing for the entire second half of the game.
Overall, Virginia had only 55 net rushing yards on the afternoon and only 102 actual yards gained. Miami had 148 yards net and their balance with 210 yards in the air along with some timely takeaways was the key to the win.
The No. 3 Hurricanes will play their final game on the road at Pittsburgh next Friday at noon. It’s a short week and a transition to winter for the Hurricanes as their final test to remain undefeated on the year.