Canes Clip Cavs in Overtime

Canes Clip Cavs in Overtime

by Carter Toole

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Close encounters have become the norm when the Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Cavaliers meet on the football field.

Heading into Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium the last five games between the two teams were decided by a total of 20 points. Last year’s contest went to four overtimes. Tonight’s game took just one extra session.

And once again it was the Canes who came out on top.

Running back Mark Fletcher Jr.’s 11-yard touchdown run lifted Miami to a 29-26 overtime victory before a crowd of 58,503 at the Canes’ Homecoming nest.

Miami improved to 6-2 overall, 2-2 in ACC play. Virginia fell to 2-6 and 1-3 in conference play.

The Cavaliers outgained the Canes 377 total yards to 276 and ran 83 plays to Miami’s 56. But the Canes’ defense persevered, registering six sacks and 10 tackles for loss, scoring on a pick-six by safety Kam Kinchens and forcing a Virginia field goal in overtime, which ultimately gave Fletcher an opportunity to put an exclamation point on the second straight overtime Saturday night at Hard Rock.

“Obviously, I’m proud of our guys for the win,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “A back-and-forth game, one that we didn’t start off very well in. And one that we just found a way to just make enough plays to take this thing into overtime and then find a way to win it.

“You know, like I told the players in there, football is football and I’m not going to waste a lot of time in the locker room talking about the things that we didn’t do well. I’m going to focus on the fact that we found a way to win and make sure that we congratulate each other because, obviously, we are going to get back to work tomorrow and do the things that we need to, to get better.”

Kinchens posted nine tackles to go along with his timely interception, and fellow safety James Williams paced the Canes with 13 tackles. Defensive ends Rueben Bain, Jr. and Branson Deen each recorded two sacks.

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke completed 20 of 30 passes for 167 yards with two interceptions. Running back Ajay Allen rushed for 67 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown, while Fletcher – after missing the last four games — had 47 yards on 11 carries, his last the game-winning tote. Wide receiver Jacolby George caught five passes for 28 yards, while fellow wideout Xavier Restrepo had 48 yards on three grabs.

Kicker Andy Borregales was clutch all night, nailing all three of his field goal attempts from 47, 50 and 48 yards, two of which tied the game in the fourth quarter.

“It’s hard to find one like (Andy),” Cristobal said. “And the way he did it, too. It wasn’t like it was close either. He wants it. He wants those opportunities. And just as effective on his kickoffs. I mean, every single one is a touchback. There is a lot of confidence in him. We were willing to kick it 55 yards, maybe a little bit more if that was the situation. Probably 53, 54 that way and 56 this way. He’s awesome.”

Virginia quarterback Tony Muskett completed 24 of 38 passes for 239 yards and wide receiver Malik Washington caught 12 passes for 152 yards. Running back Mike Hollins rushed 13 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Linebacker Kam Robinson led the Cavaliers with nine tackles and added an interception.

The Canes have now won four of the last five against the Cavaliers and have exceeded last season’s win total before Halloween.

Miami opened with a three-and-out and Virginia marched right down the field, capping a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Hollins, giving the Cavaliers a 7-0 lead.

The Canes advanced the ball to the Virginia 36 on their next drive but Van Dyke was picked off by cornerback Sam Westfall at the 10-yard line. The teams traded punts on the next four possessions before Muskett connected with Washington, who broke a tackle and raced 64 yards down the right sideline to the Miami 11. But Kinchens broke up a pass on third down and the Cavaliers settled for a 22-yard field goal by Will Bettridge and a 10-0 lead.

Van Dyke hit Restrepo for 25 yards to get the Canes moving on their next drive. Miami reached the Virginia 29 before the Cavaliers held and forced a 47-yard field goal attempt by Borregales. He split the uprights and the Canes were on the board with 4:03 left in the second quarter.

The Cavaliers ran out the clock to end the half, a half that saw Virginia outgain Miami 179 yards to 99 and run 38 plays to the Canes’ 24. But Miami had four sacks and six tackles for loss to stay within striking distance.

The Canes forced a quick three-and-out to start the second half and didn’t take long to even the score. Van Dyke completed three passes to move the ball to the Virginia 26, and Allen took care of the rest, bolting up the middle and leapfrogging safety Jonas Sanker en route to a 26-yard touchdown run. The score was tied at 10.

One play later Miami had its first lead.

Muskett dropped back and looked for wide receiver JR Wilson but Kinchens read it beautifully, stepping in front of the pass and racing 29 yards untouched to the end zone. In a span of seven seconds, Miami went from a touchdown down to a touchdown up. The Canes led 17-10 on their first pick six since Kinchens did the trick last season at Georgia Tech.

The Cavaliers responded, marching 10 plays to set up first and goal at the Miami 6. But the Canes defense held, forcing a 23-yard field goal by Bettridge that cut the lead to 17-13.

On the ensuing drive, the Canes faced a 3rd and 10 from their own 45 and Van Dyke threw his second interception. Robinson picked off the pass and returned it 14 yards to the Miami 49. Virginia moved the ball to the 16-yard line and Muskett converted a key third down with a six-yard toss to running back Perris Jones. On the next play Hollins raced down the right sideline and dove into the end zone for his second touchdown and the Cavaliers reclaimed the lead 20-17.

The teams traded punts and Miami took over at its own 41. Van Dyke hit wide receiver Colbie Young for 19 yards to kickstart the drive but the Canes stalled at the Virginia 32. Borregales nailed a 50-yarder to tie the game with 9:26 left in the contest.

The Cavaliers faced a 4th and 3 at their own 45 and converted as Muskett found wide receiver Malachi Fields open for an 18-yard gain. Muskett later scrambled eight yards to the Canes 15 to set up another fourth and short. Bettridge trotted on and converted his third field goal of the game, a 32-yarder that gave Virginia a 23-20 lead with 4:20 remaining.

Van Dyke went back to work, completing a circus throw to running back Henry Parrish, Jr. for 12 yards, a third-down strike to Young and a 19-yard toss to Restrepo to the Cavaliers 31. But Virginia held on third down and forced Borregales to tie the game again. He delivered with a 48-yarder and the game was tied for the third time with 1:23 left.

The game went to overtime and Miami won the toss, electing to play defense first. On 3rd and 8 at the Canes 23, Muskett found Washington but Williams drilled him short of the first down marker. Bettridge connected from 35 yards out to give Virginia a 26-23 lead but Miami had an opportunity put the game away.

And that they did, all thanks to Fletcher, who covered all 25 yards on three carries for the win.

The Canes next travel to NC State, which defeated Clemson 24-17 earlier today in Raleigh. Kickoff is 8 p.m. next Saturday on ACC Network.