Miami holds off Virginia 27-21, stays in Coastal race
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Going back to World War II, only three Miami coaches won their first two games with the Hurricanes.
That is, until now.
Brad Kaaya returned from a one-game absence with a concussion to pass for 286 yards and two touchdowns, Stacy Coley had 132 receiving yards with a score and Miami topped Virginia 27-21 on Saturday. The Hurricanes moved to 2-0 under interim coach Larry Scott, who joined Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson and Larry Coker as the only coaches in the last 70 years to have such a start with Miami.
''It's about the kids,'' Scott said. ''It's about giving them an opportunity to have success. They work hard. They've been through a lot. It's all about everything we can do in our power to make sure they have the feeling they have right now each and every week.''
David Njoku had a 5-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring and set up Mark Walton's 1-yard fourth-quarter scoring run with a 58-yard grab for Miami (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which is now bowl-eligible and still in the race for the ACC's Coastal Division title.
''Felt great getting back out there,'' said Kaaya, who was cleared by Miami doctors on Friday night.
Matt Johns completed 29 of 42 passes for 280 yards for Virginia (3-6, 2-3), which lost its 14th consecutive road game and needs to win out in order to reach a bowl for the first time since 2011. The Cavaliers had a fourth-quarter touchdown nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty, and were clearly steamed postgame about that call.
''Just ask me another question,'' Virginia coach Mike London said, when asked about the play.
Virginia's Canaan Severin had what would have been a 4-yard score washed out when Cavaliers tight end Charlie Hopkins was flagged on the play. Hopkins didn't make any effort to hide his frustration after the game, saying he was in ''disbelief'' when he saw the flag.
''That's a play we've had in since fall camp,'' Hopkins said. ''It's a great play. ... For me to get called on a pass interference on my guy, that makes no sense.''
Ian Frye kicked a field goal on that drive and finished with four in all, including a 47-yarder that made it a six-point game with 35 seconds left. But Miami recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Cavaliers were down 14-5 in the second quarter then put together 10 unanswered points for the lead. Olamide Zaccheaus capped a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard run for score midway through the third to put the Cavaliers on top 15-14.
It lasted all of 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Miami came right back with a field goal from Michael Badgley to reclaim the lead then Kaaya finding Njoku on a long catch-and-run set up the touchdown run by Walton that allowed the Hurricanes to finally exhale.
''It was good having our leader back,'' Yearby said.
Miami was without Artie Burns, the junior cornerback whose mother died unexpectedly late last month. The Hurricanes said Burns missed the game because of the strain of his family situation.
It's the first time since 2008 that Miami swept its ACC rivals from the state of Virginia. The Hurricanes topped Virginia Tech 30-20 earlier this season.
Miami's win sets up a huge game at North Carolina (8-1, 5-0) next weekend. The Hurricanes have to win to remain in the Coastal race, while the Tar Heels could potentially wrap up the division title.
''I want them to enjoy this hard-fought victory,'' Scott said. ''But we started talking about some of the things we need to start taking care of early to get ready for this test we've got next week.''