Saturday’s game between Virginia and Miami did not finish like it started. The Hurricanes rocked the Cavaliers 34-14, but had to recover after the worst possible start.
On Miami’s first play from scrimmage, Quarterback Brad Kaaya was picked off by Micah Kiser at the Miami 18. Five plays later the Cavaliers were in the end zone and had a 7-0 lead.
Kaaya was able to shake it off and the Hurricanes led 17-14 at half time. The second half started much better for Miami.
They forced three Virginia turnovers and the Hurricanes took full advantage. After Kaaya hooked up with Ahmmon Richards for a 77-yard touchdown, Virginia turned the ball over three times, including a muffed snap by punter Justin Vogel.
Mark Walton effectively put the game out of reach with a 15-yard touchdown run with 11:17 remaining. Fittingly, the Cavaliers fumbled the ball away on their final possession with under two minutes remaining.
Kaaya wound up throwing for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Richards had 100 yards receiving while Walton ran for 111 yards and a touchdown. Miami had an outstanding effort on the ground, rushing for 222 yards on the day.
With the win, Miami improved to 6-4 and became bowl-eligible. It also kept a streak alive for first-year Coach Mark Richt. In 34 years of coaching, including his years as an assistant, Richt has never been with a team that failed to go to a bowl game.
“I’m really proud of the effort of our team,” said Richt. “We have not won here since 2008, so this was a big win for us.”
The Hurricanes are now 6-4 and 3-3 in the conference. Miami has now won their last two games after suffering through a four-game losing streak.
They head to North Carolina State next week before concluding the regular season in two weeks against Duke.