If Brad Kaaya is leaving the University of Miami for the NFL, he went out with style Wednesday night.
Kaaya threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Hurricanes to a 31-14 victory over 13th-ranked West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl. It was Miami’s first win in 10 years, and seven bowls.
Kaaya, the game MVP, hit 24 of 34 pass attempts. Kaaya already held Miami’s career record in yards and took over the school’s No. 1 spots in completions and attempts.
“It’s awesome,” said Miami coach Mark Richt. You know, I’m really hoping we can end up in the top 25. I know it’s up the voters. We played a great football team and played them well. I’m hoping we can finish there, too,” Richt told ESPN immediately after the game ended. “Bottom line is these guys played their tails off for us and for each other and we’re real proud of them.”
West Virginia took a 7-0 lead in the first period on a run by Kennedy McCoy. After that, Kaaya took over. He hit Ammon Richards, Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios for touchdowns in the final 6:30 of the first half to get Miami rolling, and then found David Njoku for another touchdown on the first possession of the second half.
The Hurricanes, who conquered their highest-ranked opponent since beating No. 12 Florida in September 2013, had not won five straight games to close out a season since their 2011 national championship campaign.
The Mountaineers’ only previous losses this season were to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. They dropped to 10-3.