The Miami Hurricanes overcame an early Brad Kaaya interception and had a dominant second half to take down a struggling Virginia team 34-14. If the first half made you nervous as a Canes fan, with Miami holding onto a slim 17-14 lead at the half, the second half was a whole different story.
Miami forced four second half turnovers to ensure the victory. The game changed for good, when Brad Kaaya hit freshman WR Ahmmon Richards for a 77 yard TD pass with 3:35 left in the third quarter to put the Canes up 27-14. That score took any wind out of the UVA sails.
RB Mark Walton put the nail in the coffin with a 15 yard TD run in the 4th quarter. Walton rushed for 111 yards on 16 carries. Gus Edwards rushed for 68 yards and Joseph Yearby added 53 yards. As a team the Canes rushed for 222 yards. This after averaging only 107 yards per game in ACC Play. Clearly the running game showed up today and it made all of the difference.
Another good sign was the play of the offensive line which put together a second solid performance in a row, after four straight matador impressions. Brad Kaaya was only sacked once, which was more or less a coverage sack. As mentioned last week, when Brad Kaaya gets protection he will find ways to hurt you. Even though his performance wasn’t world beating (14/29 228 yds 2 TDs 1 int) he did enough to guide the Canes to victory.
On the other side of the ball, the defense just dominated UVA, especially in the second half, shutting them out score wise and keeping the UVA offense to under 70 yards. This is how you win conference games on the road. Overall the Miami defense had 5 sacks. They also forced four fumbles all in the second half, which turned out just killed the Cavaliers chances.
All in all this was yet another solid team performance by Miami. Clearly the issues with the offensive line have been resolved. They were able to run the ball consistently and their defense made plays. On paper, Miami should have the advantage against NC State and Duke to close out the season. They have a good shot of winning four straight and ending the year 8-4, which wouldn’t be terrible considering that four game losing streak. The Canes are now bowl eligible.