The No. 20 Virginia Cavaliers left an opportunity on the table to take a commanding lead in the Coastal Division as the offense sputtered on the road at Miami, 17-9. Virginia (4-2, 2-1 ACC) was inside the 25-yard line three times with no points to show for it.
Quarterback Bryce Perkins, without a knee brace for the first time this season, finished 24-for-41 with 244 yards and no touchdowns as the Hoos out-gained Miami (3-3, 1-2 ACC) 318-265. Hasise Dubois, who had to leave the game after taking a hit to the head in the second half, finished with 93 yards on seven receptions.
Miami got the ball to start and got things going quickly. The Hurricanes converted a 4th-and-7 attempt in Virginia territory to keep the drive going, and it paid off as N’Kosi Perry found running back DeeJay Dallas for the 17-yard touchdown reception. Perry went 5-for-6 for 67 yards on the drive, and the Canes ate 6:05 off the clock on the scoring drive.
After the opening scoring drive, the Virginia defense stepped up in a big way. The Hoos limited the Hurricanes to just 20 yards of offense and two first downs in the last 23:55 of the first half.
Offensively, the Cavaliers got moving down the field but came up empty when it came to the scoreboard. Virginia’s second drive of the game (they went 3-and-out on their first drive) saw the Hoos get down to the Miami 24-yard line, but a Wayne Taulapapa run was stuffed on fourth down to end the threat.
With 2:46 remaining int he half, Virginia’s Billy Kemp returned a Miami punt 19 yards to the Virginia 47-yard line. During the return, however, All-American senior cornerback Bryce Hall was injured on the play, and had to be carted off the field with an air cast on his lower left leg.
Virginia wouldn’t score on that drive, but kicked a field goal as time expired in the half to cut Miami’s advantage to 7-3.
The Hoos couldn’t get things going to start the second half, going three-and-out and punting the ball back to the Hurricanes. Nash Griffin pinned Miami inside the 10, continuing the trend of the Hoos making the Canes work for yards. After another first down, the defense stood tall yet again, and the Canes punted the ball back to the Hoos.
Virginia got a drive moving in the right direction as Dubois, Joe Reed, and Tavares Kelly came up with huge receptions, but a forced fumble by Miami on ball carrier Mike Hollins gave the ball right back to the Hurricanes deep in their own territory.
Once again, the defense proved up to the task, forcing a 3-and-out.
Dejon Brissett came up with a 15-yard reception for a first down, then Perkins followed it up by hitting Jana for 10 yards and another first down (after a couple Taulapapa rushes). Two big Miami penalties — a targeting call and illegal substitution call — put the Hoos at the Miami 4-yard line. A false start by the Cavaliers moved Virginia back to the 9-yard line, and rushes from Perkins and Taulapapa got the Hoos to the 1-yard line as the third quarter ended.
Perkins wasn’t able to find the end zone on third down, but Delaney’s second kick of the day — this one off the right upright — brought Virginia within one with just a few seconds ticked off in the fourth quarter.
Miami responded with a field goal of their own, but Reed ripped off a 72-yard return to put the Cavaliers back in good field position with 10:06 remaining in the game. It looked as if Brissett hauled in a pass along the sidelines, but a review determined he was bobbling the ball. Perkins moved the chains on third down to get the Hoos a fresh set of downs at the 17-yard line.
Once again, Virginia’s good field position was squandered as a rush for no gain, an incomplete pass, and a 10-yard sack left the Hoos in a fourth down situation. Delaney converted his third kick of the day — this one a 44-yarder — to keep Virginia within one with 7:39 remaining.
Miami ate up 5:08 minutes and drove 75 yards, culminating in a touchdown that gave them an eight point lead with 2:31 to play. Virginia got all the way to midfield, but came up empty on two desperation Hail Mary plays to end the game.
Virginia will have a chance to right the ship against Duke at home on Saturday, October 19.