Virginia scores dramatic win over Miami in final seconds

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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. 

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

The hot topic around college football this offseason has been satellite camps and now the Hokies are getting into the mix. Head coach Justin Fuente announced on Tuesday that Virginia Tech will have four satellite camps over the summer, two will take place in key regions in Virginia while the other two will be out of state in Atlanta and New Jersey.

Of the two camps in Virginia, one will take place in the "757"—the Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach area—while the other will be in Northern Virginia. The 757 region is an incredibly fertile recruiting area that has caught the attention of southern powerhouses like Florida State. Northern Virginia is also a hotly contested area with competition from the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland, among others.

The ACC previously banned satellite camps and pushed for a ban by the NCAA. The NCAA did ban the practice altogther, briefly, but after a national outcry, the ban was overturned last month.

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For his part, Fuente is not a fan of these camps, but recognizes the necessity of holding them.

“There’s a lot of issues with camps right now that we’re all trying to vet through,” Fuente said via Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “In general, the whole traveling camp (idea) is not particularly good. It just opens up a lot of room for abuse. They’re not regulated at all. But I’m excited about being able to travel in our state.”

Going to Atlanta is an interesting move, but a necessary one if the Hokies hope to return to their former glory. Recruiting in the south opens Virginia Tech to more top-tier recruits. Obviously, it will be difficult to lure southern prospects away from the SEC powers, but being able to build a footprint in the SEC's backyard will greatly help Fuente's task of rebuilding the team into a conference contender.

The move to New Jersey also makes sense. The lack of a power program in the Northeast essentially makes the region up for grabs. Schools like Ohio State and Penn State have taken advantage of Rutgers' move to the Big Ten, but obviously the ACC maintains a presence throughout the east coast.

Virginia Tech's rather remote location makes holding these camps within the state important. The state was previously dominated by the Hokies in the glory days of the Frank Beamer era, but in-state recruiting has slipped in recent years. Holding Virginia camps will help Virginia Tech maintain its presence in the state.

“I think it’s certainly necessary in our state,” Fuente said. “We’re just going to dip our toe in the water of the other ones and see how that goes. I’m genuinely excited to do the ones here.”

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Virginia fires legendary lacrosse coach Dom Starsia

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(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Virginia fires legendary lacrosse coach Dom Starsia

Virginia is making a change in leadership at the head of its lacrosse program.

On Monday the university announced that Dom Starsia, the all-time winningest coach in Division I lacrosse history with 375 victories, is being removed from his head coaching position, with a national search for a replacement to follow.

 

“Dom Starsia is a Hall of Fame coach and I want to thank him for all he has done for Virginia men’s lacrosse, UVA athletics, the University of Virginia, and the Charlottesville community,” Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. “In addition to winning 73 percent of his games at UVA with multiple ACC and NCAA championships, Dom was committed to the development of student-athletes as his teams were cited for their sportsmanship and academic achievements. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with and learned from Dom."

Under his watch, the Cavaliers won the ACC regular season championship ten times, and led the program to four National Championships (1999, 2003, 2006 and 2011).

He took a program that had not made the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons and had not won a national championship since 1972 and turned it into arguably the top program in college lacrosse. Virginia is not just a good program, nor is it just a great program. It is a blue-blood program, something that can only be ascribed to one of three or four programs.

But the firing of Starsia comes on the heels of a 7-8 record, the program's second in three years, capping a four year stretch in which the program lost at least five games a year, for a 34-27 record since the start to the 2013 season. Prior to 2013, Starsia's Virginia teams had lost five games in a season just five times since taking over as the head coach of the Cavaliers in 1993. Virginia has a 1-15 record in the ACC since 2013 and has dropped 12 consecutive conference games. 

It also ends two weeks of speculation for Starsia, the program and recruits. On May 17th, it was reported that the university would not be renewing Starsia's contract. Two days later on May 19, a report indicated a contract extension had been confirmed.

But now it is official: Virginia is in the market for a new lacrosse coach for the first time since 1992.

Frank Beamer seems to be really enjoying retirement

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USA TODAY Sports

Frank Beamer seems to be really enjoying retirement

Retirement doesn't seem to suit everyone, especially in sports. History is full of examples of players and coaches who get antsy soon after calling it quits. That doesn't seem to be the case with Frank Beamer.

Beamer stepped aside at the end of the 2015 season after a 44-year college coaching career that included 29 years as the head coach at Virginia Tech. After such a long and storied career, you could understand if Beamer struggled a bit to adjust to life outside of coaching, but he seems to be doing just fine.

Hey, when you lead a program to 22 bowl games, seven conference championships and one national championship game berth, you can enjoy retirement any way you want.

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