Hurricanes Football: Early Turkey Day for Miami fans

The No. 10 Miami Hurricanes entered their prime time matchup against the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies ready to silence the critics. They did exactly that with a 28-10 win and now sit at 8-0 on the year. Hard Rock Stadium in North Miami was sold out and the packed house anticipated the biggest regular season game in years. The famous “Turnover Chain” was polished and ready to shine under the full South Florida moonlight.

Undefeated Miami faced their toughest challenge of the year against a Hokies squad that thumped them last year 37-16 in Blacksburg. Prior to that Miami had defeated Virginia Tech two straight times. Those were the first consecutive victories against the Hokies since the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

The Hurricanes came out on defense after deferring the toss and the raucous crowd helped Miami stop Virginia Tech after just one first down. When the Canes took over they got Braxton Berrios involved immediately with some trickery.

After an eight yard carry, Berrios took a double reverse and lobbed a first down pass to quarterback Malik Rosier. Two consecutive false starts slowed Miami down but then Rosier hit Berrios with a laser over the zone in the middle for a first down.

The catch put the Hurricanes in plus territory and after a timeout Rosier ripped off a huge run on the option to set up first and goal.

Unfortunately as has been the case a lot this year, Miami could not capitalize and stalled out. Four plays with goal-to-go went for minus three yards. Mark Richt rolled the dice and went for it on fourth down but Travis Homer was stuffed for no gain and Virginia Tech took over.


The teams would trade punts and the first quarter would end scoreless. Miami had almost doubled Virginia Tech in yardage 102-52 but committed three penalties for 25 yards to even things out.

Miami held Tech on third down to open the second quarter to force another punt. The Hurricanes had been losing the field position battle but finally got things going.

Homer started to get involved and Miami was able to move the chains, helped by a pass interference penalty on third down to get across midfield. The Hurricanes would not be denied this time and finally opened the scoring with an eight yard strike from Rosier to Berrios.

The defense held up their end of the deal and forced a three-and-out. Miami took over again at their 31. Then Miami got their first game breaking play. Travis Homer broke out with a beautiful cut back and smoked the Turkeys for the 64-yard score and a 14-0 lead.

Virginia Tech did respond on their next possession and moved deep into Hurricanes territory. Once again the Miami defense rattled the Hokies and forced a 51 yard field goal which was good. Miami led 14-3 with just over two minutes remaining in the half.

After a somewhat shaky start Malik Rosier had settled down until he forced a deep pass to Jeff Thomas and it was picked off. Virginia Tech wasted no time and hit several passes to reach the Miami 18. Then the long overdue Turnover Chain graced Hard Rock Stadium, shimmering under the full Miami moon.

The Hurricanes would not cash in, but Miami fans had an impeccable feeling going into halftime up 14-3.

Key Halftime stats:

Malik Rosier- 5/12 passing, 77 yards, one touchdown, one interception

Travis Homer 5 carries, 71 yards, one touchdown

Braxton Berrios two receptions, 32 yards. One carry, nine yards. One completion for 17 yards.

Miami would receive the second half kickoff and quickly went back to work. The drive was moving on schedule but for the second time Rosier made a poor decision.

The Miami quarterback misread the safety dropping in coverage and threw an easy interception which was returned to the Hurricanes 17. Tech wasted no time and put up their first touchdown and now trailed 14-10.

Rosier continued to use the run/pass option on the ensuing drive and Miami made a concerted effort to get it going on the ground. Once again, Rosier killed the drive with his third pick of the game.

The ‘Canes got a huge lift from their defense and made a critical stop when Tech botched the fourth down snap.

It seems like when Miami needs a big play, besides Darrell Langham it often comes from tight end Christopher Herndon. Once again he delivered a huge play, helped by excellent down field blocking from the receivers.

Now with a 21-10 lead the Miami crowd was in a frenzy. Hurricanes’ Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz sensed the moment and dialed up great pressure, forcing another punt.

Miami could not keep the momentum on offense and were quickly forced to punt. Virginia Tech picked up their tempo on offense and moved inside the Miami 35.

Then once again the greatest piece of hardware in college football was unveiled.

All season the fourth quarter has belonged to the Hurricanes, and finally Rosier would hit a big play. Ahmmon Richards has struggled all year with injuries and drops but came up huge with a 42 yard bomb to set Miami up in the red zone. This time Rosier would keep it on the ground, dashing for a 13 yard score to put Miami up 28-10.

After forcing another punt Rosier and Company took over and continued to gash the Hokies on the ground. Between the run/pass option with Rosier and the one cut, downhill running of Homer, Miami ate clock and kept clicking off first downs.

Miami would stall and again punt the ball back. The rowdy crowd would not be disappointed by their defense as they continued to dominate and collect bling.

This was a complete performance from the Hurricanes defense, holding Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson to just 197 yards passing with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Rosier was not sharp with his arm, but his running ability somewhat made up for it and he was Miami’s second leading rusher with 84 yards. Finally on a national stage, The U beat a highly ranked opponent in convincing fashion. Next week’s home game with Notre Dame just got bigger, and there will be a special guest in the house.

Mark Richt has re-established the “State of Miami” in recruiting and assembled a team that can compete with the top programs nationally. It remains to be seen if there will be a hangover after such a huge win, but Hurricanes fans have waited a long time to find out.

Key game stats- Offense

Malik Rosier:

Passing 10/21, 193 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions.

Rushing- 13 carries, 84 yards, touchdown

Travis Homer: 14 carries, 95 yards, touchdown; reception, 20 yards

DeeJay Dallas: 6 carries, 32 yards

Braxton Berrios: 3 receptions, 50 yards, 1 touchdown

One carry, 9 yards

One completion, 17 yards

Christopher Herndon: 2 receptions, 61 yards, touchdown

Key Game Stats- Defense

Jaquan Johnson 7 tackles, interception

Sheldrick Redwine 6 tackles, interception

Joe Jackson 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, sack

R.J. McIntosh 2 tackles, fumble recovery

Jonathan Garvin sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery

Game notes: Miami gained 429 total yards to just 299 for Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes attack was almost perfectly balanced with 210 yards rushing and 219 passing. Virginia Tech was only 3 for 14 on third down while Miami was 3 for 8.

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