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Recap and More: Virginia Upsets Miami

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — First Virginia knocked Jacory Harris from a scoreless game, then it dashed No. 22 Miami’s hopes for the ACC Coastal Division title in one afternoon.

Keith Payne ran for two touchdowns and the Cavaliers tied a school record with five interceptions–four against Harris’ backups–in a 24-19 upset Saturday.

“When you chop the head off a giant, the rest of the body goes with it,” said defensive tackle John-Kevin Dolce, who squared up Harris’ chest just as he released a pass, sending him airborne.

Harris’ head appeared to hit the turf first, and he remained down for 4 minutes.

“Jacory was their leader and what changed the game was taking him out,” Dolce said.

Chase Minnifield intercepted the pass, and there was no flag on the play.

Harris eventually rose to cheers and was helped to the locker room. He did not return, and Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon said he had no information on Harris’ condition.

The impact was felt on both sidelines.

“We let our brother get hurt,” center Tyler Horn said. “There’s no worse feeling than seeing that and knowing that’s because of the offensive line, that’s because of us.”

Virginia (4-4, 1-3 ACC), which had lost nine straight conference games, went ahead 24-0 early in the fourth quarter before the Hurricanes mounted a comeback behind true freshman Stephen Morris. Making his first appearance, Morris hit Leonard Hankerson with a 29-yard scoring pass with 10:34 to play, then ran 9 yards for a touchdown with 4:54 remaining.

The Hurricanes recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Travis Benjamin caught a deep pass, spun free from cornerback Mike Parker and raced 60 yards to make it 24-19 with 4:39 left.

That was plenty of time for Miami to kick off, hold on defense and try to win it. But Marc Verica hit Matt Snyder for 6 yards on third-and-3 from the 27, then connected with Kris Burd for 20 yards on third-and-7 from the 35, allowing the Cavaliers to run out the clock.

Stats | Photos | Video | Notes
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
Miami 0 0 0 19 19
UVA 0 14 3 7 24
Team Stat Comparison
1st Downs 18 24
   Rushing 1st downs 8 8
   Passing 1st downs 8 12
Net Yards Rushing 185 179
   Rushing Attempts 46 29
   Avg Per Rush 4.0 6.2
   Rushing TDs 2 1
Net Yards Passing 176 269
   Cmp-Att-Int 19-27-1 18-42-5
   Avg Per Attempt 6.5 6.4
   Avg Per Completion 9.3 14.9
   Passing TDs 1 2
Individual Stat Leaders
Passing Leaders
  Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long
   M. Verica 19-27-1 176 1 31
   S. Morris 9-22-2 162 2 60
Rushing Leaders
Miami No Yds TD Avg
   D. Berry 11 43 0 3.8
   T. Benjamin 1 36 0 36
UVA No Yds TD Avg
   K. Payne 17 84 2 4.8
   P. Jones 22 78 0 3.1
Recieving Leaders
Miami No Yds TD Long
   L. Hankerson 6 90 1 29
   L. Byrd 6 78 0 40
UVA No Yds TD Long
   K. Burd 7 104 0 31
   P. Jones 4 17 0 9

“That was the biggest catch of my life right there,” Burd said.

Verica was 19 for 27 for 176 yards with one interception.

The victory gave first-year coach Mike London a signature win, and one that allowed him to pull his team together on the field and reinforce that his program is taking hold.

Two weeks ago, after a 44-10 homecoming loss to North Carolina, he gathered his players and told them to watch the Tar Heels and their fans celebrating, and to remember the feeling.

“It’s the same thing,” he said. “… I don’t know how many other opportunities we are going to have to feel that before the season ends, but you have to start somewhere and you have to start a mindset of `this is what’s going to happen around here for a long time.”‘

The Cavaliers beat a ranked team for the first time since defeating No. 21 Georgia Tech 24-17 on Oct. 25, 2008, and got their first win of the season against a team from a BCS conference. They have also beaten Richmond and VMI of the Championship Subdivision and Eastern Michigan.

The Hurricanes (5-3, 3-2), who seemed to hit their stride in a convincing victory against North Carolina last week, made it inside the Virginia 20 just once in the first three quarters, and Morris’ pass into the end zone was acrobatically intercepted by Minnifield.

Whipple played the rest of the first half ineffectively after Harris was hurt, completing 2 of 6 passes, and Shannon decided to give Morris a chance to start the second half. Morris finished 9 for 22 for 162 yards.

Now, instead of looking to a possible showdown with No. 21 Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division’s spot in the ACC championship game, they will try to regroup to play Maryland.

“We just have to win the games,” Shannon said.

Virginia drove for its first touchdown after intercepting Harris, and London sent his own guys a message by electing to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Hurricanes 16.

“When you have a team that has taken its lumps, the only way to bring them out of that mindset is to say, `I have enough faith in you that we are going to go for it,”‘ he said.

Verica found Colter Phillips alone behind the Miami secondary for the TD.

Payne, who gained 81 yards on 17 carries, scored on a 30-yard run on Virginia’s next possession after Spencer Whipple was intercepted by Corey Mosely. Payne added a 5-yard TD run in the fourth quarter one play after Mosely’s second interception and zigzagging return.

Whipple and Morris each threw two interceptions.

“This is the game we’ve been waiting for as a secondary,” Minnifield said.

And as a program.

Matt Bosher

Tyler Horn

Colin McCarthy’s third quarter interception was Miami’s 15th of the season in eight games. Coming into today’s game, the Hurricanes’ 14 interceptions as a team trailed only Alabama’s 15 for the national lead. Last season, the `Canes recorded just nine interceptions in 13 games.

Senior Matt Bosher had his most productive outing in the punting game this season, booting four balls for an average of 57.8 yards, including a season-long punt of 62 yards.

With six catches today, Leonard Hankerson extended his consecutive games with a catch streak to 21. Hankerson also improved on his team-leading touchdown total in the fourth quarter when he recorded his ninth TD of the season with a 29-yard touchdown reception.

Junior wide receiver LaRon Byrd recorded a season-best 78 yards receiving on 6 catches today.

With 39 total yards this afternoon, Graig Cooper now has 3,612 all-purpose yards, passing Edgerrin James for third place in program history.

Freshman quarterback Stephen Morris made his debut as a Hurricane today, coming out of the second half at quarterback from Miami. Morris tossed his first career touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson in the fourth quarter and later scored his first touchdown on a nine-yard run on the next drive. Morris would go on to finish the game 9-for-22 for 162 yards with two touchdown passes.

LaRon Byrd recorded a season-long reception of 40 yards from Jacory Harris on Miami’s opening drive.
Graig Cooper’s 20-yard run in the second quarter was his longest of the season.
Travis Benjamin recorded a career-long 36-yard run on a reverse on Whipple’s first play of the game in the second quarter.
Storm Johnson’s 30-yard kick return in the second quarter was the longest of his career.
Colin McCarthy’s third quarter interception was his first this season and third of his career.
– McCarthy also recorded a career-high 18 tackles (5 solo, 13 ast.). The total is the most from any Hurricane in a game this season.

Miami is 29-13 all-time versus teams from the state of Virginia. In the series against ACC members Virginia and Virginia Tech, Miami is at its best when it scores 20 or more points. UM is a combined 16-2 against Virginia Tech (11-2) and Virginia (5-0) when it scores 20 or more points in a game. The Hurricanes are 6-11 when it fails to score at least 20 points against the Cavaliers (0-3) and Hokies (6-8).

– The Hurricanes have proven to be one of the nation’s most efficient teams when it comes to quick-strike scoring on offense. Already this year, Miami has 15 scores of two minutes or less through eight games.
– Miami posted 20 scoring drives under two minutes in 2009, which was among the best in the nation.
Plays-Yds TOP Result Opponent
7-63 1:40 Hankerson 19-yd TD catch FAMU
6-64 1:17 Hankerson 40-yd TD catch FAMU
6-55 1:51 James 1-yd TD run FAMU
7-19 1:58 Bosher 51-yard FG OSU
7-60 1:37 Ford 9-yard TD catch OSU
4-51 1:02 Hankerson 19-yard TD catch PITT
4-43 1:26 Benjamin 10-yard TD catch PITT
3-70 1:00 Hankerson 65-yard TD catch CLEM
1-18 0:06 James 18-yard TD catch CLEM
2-29 0:14 Hankerson 7-yard TD catch CLEM
6-69 1:54 Berry 26-yard TD run FSU
7-55 1:56 Hankerson 14-yard TD catch DUKE
3-46 1:10 Harris 13-yard TD run DUKE
4-65 1:22 Hankerson 29-yard TD catch UVA
1-60 0:15 Benjamin 60-yard TD catch UVA

Miami’s offensive starters today were: Jacory Harris (QB), LaRon Byrd (WR), Leonard Hankerson (WR), Richard Gordon (TE), Orlando Franklin (LT), Harland Gunn (LG), Tyler Horn (C), Brandon Washington (RG), Seantrel Henderson (RT), Patrick Hill (FB) and Damien Berry (RB)

Starting for Miami on defense was: Allen Bailey (LDE), Micanor Regis (LT), Marcus Forston (RT), Adewale Ojomo (RDE), Sean Spence (WLB), Colin McCarthy (MLB), Ramon Buchanan (SLB), Brandon Harris (CB), Vaughn Telemaque (FS), JoJo Nicolas (SS), Ryan Hill (CB).

Miami’s captains today were Jacory Harris, Leonard Hankerson, Allen Bailey and Matt Bosher