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No. 16 Miami Falls at Virginia, 16-13

No. 16 Miami Falls at Virginia, 16-13

By David Villavicencio

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Miami Hurricanes hit the road for the first time in conference play, but could not leave Virginia with a victory.
The No. 16/15 Hurricanes (5-2, 2-1 ACC) fell to Virginia, 16-13, on homecoming night at Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers (3-3, 2-1 ACC) held Miami’s offense in check all night, forcing three turnovers, to help snap the Canes’ five-game winning streak and earn its fourth win over Miami in the last five games played in Charlottesville dating back to 2010.
It was an eventful opening quarter that had the teams combine for three turnovers and an ejection, but resulted in zero points. Miami’s defense stepped up in a big way, as Trajan Bandy and Sheldrick Redwine each picked off Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins. But Miami could not convert the turnovers into points.
Bandy picked off Perkins to end Virginia’s first possession, earning his second Turnover Chain of the year. But four plays later, the Hurricanes faced fourth-and-4 from its 49 and head coach Mark Richt decided to go for it. Quarterback N’Kosi Perry’s scramble was stopped just shy of the line to gain and Virginia took over possession on downs.
Miami’s defense squashed any momentum the Cavaliers gained from their stop, as linebacker Michael Pinckney’s 10-yard sack of Perkins was sandwiched by a pair of five-yard penalties that pushed Virginia back to its own 35 and the Cavaliers punted the ball back to the Canes.
Redwine picked off Perkins at the Miami 31 and returned the interception 14 yards to the UM 45. The senior was the second Cane to don the Turnover Chain and gave Miami two forced turnovers in the opening quarter, but Virginia got the ball back two plays later when a deep pass by Perry was intercepted by UVA’s Joey Blount at the Virginia 17 and returned 31 yards to the UVA 48.
Miami’s defense was dealt a big blow with 1:39 left in the first quarter, as Thorpe Award candidate Michael Jackson was disqualified after being called for targeting on Virginia’s Chris Sharp. The penalty gave UVA the ball on the Miami 26 and a fresh set of downs. The Cavaliers capitalized off the penalty and Brian Delaney converted a 26-yard field goal to give UVA a 3-0 lead with 13:46 left in the first half.
The Cavaliers’ defense forced its second turnover of the game just after Miami reached midfield on its next possession. Juan Thornhill picked off Perry at the UVA 31 and returned the interception 62 yards deep into Miami territory, giving Virginia the ball at the Miami seven. Two plays later, Jordan Ellis rushed for a seven-yard touchdown and gave the Cavaliers a 10-0 lead with 11:16 remaining in the half.
Malik Rosier replaced Perry at quarterback for the Hurricanes’ next possession, but the Cavaliers’ defense continued to stifle Miami’s offense and forced a three-and-out.
But Bandy got the ball right back for the Canes by picking off Perkins for the second time. The sophomore made a leaping interception on a pass intended for Hasise Dubois to give Miami the ball on its own 48 and mark the first multi-interception game of his career and the first by a Hurricane since Jackson vs. Syracuse on Oct. 21, 2017.
Two plays later, Rosier connected with Lawrence Cager for a 30-yard gain to the Virginia 22, but the Cavaliers’ defense pushed the Canes back thanks to a nine-yard sack by Mandy Alonso and Miami had to settle for a career-best 47-yard field goal by freshman kicker Bubba Baxa that cut the UVA lead to seven, 10-3, with 7:15 left in the half.
Miami’s defense forced a three-and-out and the Canes carried that momentum into its next possession. Travis Homered ripped off a career-long 70-yard run to the Virginia 15, as UVA’s Bryce Hall saved a touchdown with a great effort to catch the junior running back and force him out of bounds. The Canes could not finish the drive with a touchdown, as Baxa connected on a 28-yard field goal to cut into Virginia’s lead again, 10-6, with 3:11 remaining in the half.
Perkins drove the Cavaliers offense down to the Miami 29 and Delaney converted his second field goal attempt of the night, a career-long 46-yarder, to send Virginia into the locker room with a 13-6 lead.
The first half was a tough one for the Canes, forcing three turnovers but coming away with just six points. The Hurricanes’ offense mustered just 137 yards in the opening 30 minutes and its two turnovers led to 10 of Virginia’s 13 first half points. Miami’s defense had six tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions, while holding the Cavaliers to 148 total yards in the half.
The Canes caught a break on their opening drive of the second half, as Virginia’ Zane Zandier was called for a roughing the passer penalty on third-and-17 from the Miami 30 that gave the Hurricanes 15 yards and a fresh set of downs. The Hurricanes reached the UVA 24, but Trayone Gray’s rush on fourth-and-1 was stopped short of the 23 and the Cavaliers’ defense held Miami for the second time on fourth down.
Miami’s defense continued to keep the Canes in the game, as Jonathan Garvin sacked Perkins on third-and-3 from the UVA 31 for a six-yard loss that forced a three-and-out and return possession to the Hurricanes. But Miami’s offense could not get much momentum going and punted after gaining just nine yards over four plays before punting it back to the Cavaliers.
Virginia responded by engineering a 16-play, 73-yard scoring drive that lasted 8:35 that ended with a 32-yard Delaney field goal to put the Cavaliers up, 16-6, with 10:49 left in the game.
The Hurricanes appeared to be charging towards a scoring opportunity, as Rosier completed consecutive passes to Homer for gains of 24 and 21 yards, respectively. But two plays later, the redshirt senior quarterback was picked off by Thornhill at the UVA 19 and the interception was returned 24 yards to end the Miami threat and give UVA the ball on its own 43.
Miami’s defense forced another Virginia punt and the Hurricanes answered with an 11-play, 93-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard rushing touchdown by Rosier that put the Canes within three, 16-13, with 3:04 remaining to play. Rosier was responsible for every yard on the scoring drive, throwing for 65 yards while completing six-of-nine pass attempts and running for 28 yards on two carries.
Disaster struck for the Hurricanes on the ensuing kickoff. With Baxa kicking off from the 50 yardline following a roughing the kicker penalty on the PAT attempt, the Canes decided to onside kick and Virginia’s Evan Butts caught the ball and returned it 30 yards to the Miami 27.
Miami’s defense appeared to poised to hold Virginia to a field goal attempt, as the Canes held Perkins to a one-yard run on third-and-3 from the UM 20. But Miami defensive lineman Tito Odenigbo was flagged for a personal foul following the play that gave the Cavaliers an automatic first down and advanced the ball 10 yards.
Four downs later, Delaney attempted a 30-yard field goal and Miami was called for roughing the kicker. Virginia received an automatic first down and took a knee to seal the upset win over the Hurricanes.