For the first time in over a month, the Hurricanes can add to their winning streak.
Miami ended a three-game losing streak with a 20-14 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday at Lane Stadium. The Hokies fought back late after taking a 20-0 lead, but Miami left Bucksburg with a .500 record.
"It's been three weeks already," defender Akem Messidor said. But winning is hard, and when you win, it's important to celebrate with your team.
Despite a sellout crowd of more than 65,000 Hokies fans, the Hurricanes got off to a fast start that has eluded them for much of their season.
Although Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells connected with De'Quan Wright for a 27-yard pass into UM territory, cornerback DJ Ivey forced a fumble that recovered safety Avanta Williams and gave Miami the ball.
The Hurricanes (3-3, 1-1 ACC) took advantage of the change and led the field. Colby Young, a sophomore wide receiver, a transfer from Lackawanna College who saw limited playing time early in the season, made two one-handed catches Saturday and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Van Dyke to Frank Ladson Jr. before.
Van Dyke threw Young his second touchdown of the day when the 6-5 wide receiver scored the second draw with one hand and 5:28 left in the second quarter.
"What a day, he made some amazing catches," Van Dyke said. "He continues to support us."
Van Dyke continued his hot streak last week, completing 29 of 46 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns.
"Tyler felt very, very comfortable," said coach Mario Cristobal. "He trained in the game, which allowed him to play at a high level, especially in the first half. He was hard to stop."
The defense held the Hokies while the Hurricanes offense dragged the field. Virginia Tech (2-5, 1-3 ACC) started Saturday with the nation's No. 115 passing offense, and Miami didn't let them improve their numbers much. The Hurricanes limited the Hokies to just 106 yards in the first half.
"I think we prepared well this week," quarterback Keontra Smith said. “Our D-line did a great job shutting down this quarterback's pocket. We played well."
The defense held the Hokies for most of the second half, but Virginia Tech broke through early in the fourth quarter when Grant Wells threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Milkiah Thomas.
Miami's offense didn't move the ball like it did in the first half, scoring just three points on a basket by Andy Borregales. The Hurricanes finished the game with 458 yards.
In the second half, the Hurricanes' offensive problems and some crucial penalties kept the Hokies in the game. Virginia Tech took advantage of UM mistakes and cut Miami's lead to six points on a rushing touchdown by Wells.
They had a little motivation," Mesidor said. "They decided to make it a little more interesting in the fourth quarter, but we did a good job of stopping them and our offense allowed us to run out the clock and win that game."
However, the Hurricanes' offense found crucial first downs to kill time and secure the win. Van Dyke finished the game with a 9-yard run as Miami picked up its first win over an ACC opponent.
"The players deserve a lot of credit for fighting hard and finding a way to win a conference football game," Cristobal said.
Five ways to receive
1. Colby Young is a major producer.
Young came to Coral Gables from Lackawanna College late in the season and barely saw the field in Miami's first five games. Injuries to fellow wide receivers have pushed him to the top of the depth chart.
"What can you say about that person?" said Christopher. The boy came here, he probably flew in a helicopter (dark lover) and flew in front of the camp and started training and getting ready to play football. He did. It just goes away. That person just walks away.
The 6-5 receiver led Miami with 110 yards and showed why he can be the offense's most potent weapon. He had two tackles and one tackle in the win.
2. A quick start is essential.
Miami has struggled early this season. In their three losses before Saturday, the Hurricanes were outscored 55-30 in the first half.
The Hurricanes turned things around Saturday, scoring in the first practice and taking a 17-0 halftime lead.
"Momentum drives a lot," Cristobal said. "And that momentum that was built early on was really amazing for us."
3. The racing game still has problems.
Miami's passing game was good Saturday, but UM has yet to find much resonance in the run game. The Hurricanes finished with 107 rushing yards.
Jaylan Knighton led the team with 27 yards and Henry Parrish Jr. was injured, while Tad Franklin Jr. added 23 and Lucius Stanley 23.
Miami quarterback Jakuri Brown ran the ball three times, and Brown rushed for 22 yards.
Cristobal said he sees improvement in the running game, especially in close-range situations.
"We had some moments in the run game and now they're tight, now they're playing man," Cristobal said. “At the end of the day, they made Tyler take over.
4. A cover shot is fired
Virginia Tech doesn't have the best offense in the country, but Miami finished defensively and held the Hokies to just 14 points on Saturday.
The Hurricanes forced eight punts on 12 Virginia Tech drives and held the Hokies to 257 offensive yards to just 78 rushing yards.
Miami pressured Virginia Tech's backfield several times and posted six sacks. Defensive lineman Akeem Messidor, Miami's top defensive tackle this season, had a career-high 3.5 sacks for the first-year Hurricane. He has five starts this season.
"In practice, we hit the defender pretty hard," Mesidor said. “We set up some plays that we knew would work, but it all came down to preparation in practice. I think we prepared well, I think we prepared well and dominated defensively overall.
5. Cases of sanctions are increasing
The Hurricanes enter Saturday as one of the least penalized teams in the country, averaging 5.4 penalties per game (38th in the nation). That trend changed on Saturday.
Judge limited Miami to 159 yards with 17 penalties in Saturday's win.
Multiple Hurricanes penalties blocked offensive moves. A fourth-and-two false start in the second half changed the mind of the UM staff as they decided to punt after initially going to the Hokies' 40-yard line.
"We came out of the conference with a minimum number of penalties, but today we came out with a lot of penalties," Cristobal said. "Some simply controlled the area."
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