Virginia scores dramatic win over Miami in final seconds


Virginia scores dramatic win over Miami in final seconds

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Michael Rocco threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee with 6 seconds remaining Saturday and Virginia rallied from a 10-point deficit to stun Miami 41-40.

Rocco threw four touchdown passes and Virginia (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its second in a row after a six-game losing streak. It was the Cavaliers third straight win against the Hurricanes.

The victory kept the Cavaliers' slim bowl hopes alive. Virginia still has to beat North Carolina and Virginia Tech to become bowl eligible.

Miami (5-5, 4-3) lost despite three touchdown passes from Stephen Morris and a brilliant performance by Duke Johnson. The freshman ran for 150 yards, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and threw a TD pass. The victory also cost the Hurricanes control of their Coast Division title race.

But in the end, it was Miami's defense that let the Hurricanes down.

Rocco led a 16-play, 87-yard drive, keeping it alive with a 9-yard completion to Dominique Terrell on fourth-and-7 from his own 44. Penalties also hurt Miami. There was a late flag for holding against cornerback Thomas Finnie on another fourth down pass that Terrell did not come up with at Miami's 20.

Four plays later, Rocco found the 6-foot-5 McGee in the back of the end zone for the game-winner. He finished 29 of 37 for 300 yards and also threw touchdown passes of 7 yards to Miles Gooch, and 6 and 5 yards to Darius Jennings. The second TD to Jennings pulled Virginia within 38-35 with 5:33 left in the game.

Morris threw for 179 yards with three touchdowns: a 12-yarder to Allen Hurns, 9 yards to Clive Walford and 35-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett, which gave the Hurricanes a 38-28 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Then Virginia coach Mike London ditched the quarterback rotation he had been using all day, put the ball back in Rocco's hands and the junior's pinpoint passing led two touchdown drives.

Rocco even appeared to get a break that went Virginia's way.

He was called for intentional grounding from the end zone under heavy pressure, giving Miami a safety and the ball with just over 4 minutes to play. Replays showed that Rocco was not in the end zone when he threw the ball away, but a review did not overturn the call.

Virginia had to kick the ball to Miami, but its defense held, setting up the finish.

Miami's Johnson would have stolen the show in the first half if the Hurricanes have stopped Virginia. Still, the freshman was impressive.

Johnson ripped off a 52-yard run on the Hurricanes' opening possession, dodging at least three defenders along the way. Two plays later, he threw a perfect 8-yard halfback option pass to Hurns for the touchdown.

Virginia took a 7-0 lead on Rocco's 7-yard pass to Miles Gooch, and after Johnson's scoring pass, Rocco drove the Cavaliers downfield again, and Jennings took a swing pass 6 yards for the TD.

Johnson followed with his big return to tie the score at 14, and Sims came on at quarterback as part of London's rotation. He led the team on a 52-yard march, capped by his 6-yard run to make it 21-14.

Morris hooked up with Hurns from 12 yards to tie the game at 21 on the first play of the second quarter, and the Hurricanes got a break when Virginia tailback Perry Jones unwisely threw a halfback option pass into double coverage and Brandon McGee intercepted and returned it to the Miami 48.

It was the first drive of the game that didn't end in a touchdown, and when the Cavaliers stopped Miami's progress at the 13, Jake Wieclaw kicked a 30-yard field goal for Miami's first lead.

After the wild first half, Walford's touchdown catch was the only scoring of the third quarter, and Virginia cornerback Maurice Canady kept the Cavaliers in the game when he stripped Morris of the ball as he headed for the end zone on a 22-yard run, and also recovered for Miami's only turnover of the day.

Morris atoned with his touchdown to Dorsett on the next series, but then Rocco took over.

The Cavaliers' only first-half drive that didn't end in a touchdown was ended by a halfback option pass that Perry Jones threw into double coverage and Brandon McGee intercepted and returned 26 yards. 

Jerod Evans sharp again as Virginia Tech beats Miami, 37-16

Jerod Evans sharp again as Virginia Tech beats Miami, 37-16

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Jerod Evans threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third and Virginia Tech beat Miami 37-16 on Thursday night.

Evans hit Bucky Hodges with scoring throws of 7 and 12 yards, and Travon McMillian ran for 131 yards for the Hokies (5-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who kept pace with Coastal Division-leading North Carolina in the chase for a spot in the ACC title game.

Brad Kaaya threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns for the Hurricanes (4-3, 1-3), but he also was sacked eight times as they lost their third in a row.

The Hokies limited Miami to 42 rushing yards on 29 carries thanks to the sacks, which cost Kaaya 55 yards.

Woody Baron had three of the sacks for Virginia Tech, and fullback Sam Rogers threw his first career touchdown pass in the third quarter.


Miami: The Hurricanes have never won the Coastal Division since joining the ACC in 2004 and won't win it again this year. Their defense was supposed to be a question entering the game, and they were without three starters and had four freshmen in the starting lineup, but their inability to generate a running game put all the pressure on Kaaya, and while he put up some good numbers, an offensive line that allowed eight sacks isn't good enough to win most games against top level teams.

Virginia Tech: Evans was virtually mistake-free again, and their plethora of weapons in the pass game seems to be opening up the running game as well. Evans added 98 rushing yards, including a 34-yard score, as the Hokies piled up 253 yards on the ground. On defense, apart from last weekend's stunning loss at Syracuse, the Hokies have allowed only 36 points in their last four non-Syracuse games.


Miami visits Notre Dame next Saturday. The Fighting Irish are off this weekend, and have lost four of their last five.

Virginia Tech plays its second consecutive Thursday night game when it visits Pittsburgh, which is off this weekend.

Heisman Hopefuls: Does Donnel Pumphrey have a real chance?


Heisman Hopefuls: Does Donnel Pumphrey have a real chance?

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is the nation's leading rusher. In just six games, he already registered 1,111 rushing yards for an average of 185.17 yards per game.

What's more, he has been consistently great in his career and he now ranks 10th overall in career rushing yards among FBS players.

So does the Aztec running back have a realistic chance of winning the Heisman?

No, next question.


Sorry to be blunt about it, but the answer is no. The reason? Competition.

The level of competition seems to matter more to Heisman voters than the stats. That makes it very hard for players of non-power conference teams to even rank among the finalists.

Take Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds who was not even given an invite to New York last year despite his historic season last year. If you need more evidence that stats don't matter, how about Christian McCaffrey? McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' record for all-purpose yards last season and still came in second in the Heisman ballots to Derrick Henry.

That's not to say that Henry wasn't deserving, he had a phenomenal season, but statistically he came nowhere near McCaffrey.

The question you must ask yourself is what would Pumphrey's numbers look like if he was playing against SEC teams every week? Would he still be having the same kind of season?

That's an impossible question to answer and an unfair one to ask. The fact is, Pumphrey is running all over Division 1 athletes. He's been phenomenal and would do much better if he was placed on the roster of a SEC or a Big Ten team than many may think. I certainly think he is deserving, but I don't vote for the Heisman.

Based on recent history, when the finalists gather in New York, Pumphrey will very likely not be among them.

Who will? Find out here in the updated Heisman Hopefuls.