By Alex Donno

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MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The 3rd ranked Miami Hurricanes remain unblemished, now 10-0 on the season. Miami survived a slow start to defeat the 6-5 Virginia Cavaliers 44-28 from Hard Rock Stadium. Miami, who had already clinched the ACC Coastal Division, kept their College Football Playoff hopes intact.

Junior quarterback Malik Rosier went 15 for 28 for 210 yards with 3 passing touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Rosier added a crucial rushing touchdown in the 4th quarter. He’s now 11-0 as a starter.

Sophomore receiver Ahmmon Richards led Miami’s receivers with 4 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. It was Richards’ first touchdown on the season. He’s dealt with hamstring and ankle issues throughout the year.

Junior Dayall Harris also caught his first touchdown (season and career), reaching out for an over the shoulder catch on a well-placed Rosier deep ball for a 36 yards.

On the ground, leading rusher Travis Homer was bottled up early but finished strong. Homer was held to just 5 rushing yards in the first half, but finished with 96 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Cardiac Canes

The final score did not reflect how close the game truly was.

After beating a pair of ranked opponents with ease, the Hurricanes returned to their suspenseful ways. Miami trailed 14-0 and 28-14 before rallying in the second half.

Miami finished the game with 30 unanswered points.

Malik Rosier found Lawrence Cager in the back of the end zone for a 9 yard touchdown to pull the Canes within a score, making it 28-21 Virginia. The touchdown capped off a 7 play, 63 yard drive.

On Virginia’s next drive, safety Jaquan Newton jumped a route for an interception in stride. He returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

Miami took their first lead of the game with 2:03 to play in the third quarter, with Michael Badgley nailing a 45 yard field goal to make it 31-28 Hurricanes.

Miami’s defense would stymie the Cavaliers late, forcing a pair of turnovers-on-downs in the waning minutes. UVA went 0 for 3 on 4th downs in the game.

Rosier gave the Hurricanes some breathing room with 4:03 left in the 4th quarter. On 3rd and goal from the 8 yard line, with the game hanging in the balance, Rosier kept the football on a quarterback draw and rumbled into the end zone. The touchdown gave the Hurricanes a 37-28 lead (Miami missed the extra point.)

Running back Travis Homer would later seal the game with a 19 yard touchdown run, putting the Canes ahead for good at 44-28 with 1:16 left.

Benkert Shines Early

Virginia’s senior quarterback Kurt Benkert played the game of his life over the first two and a half quarters. He completed his first 13 passes, and finished the first half with a stat-line that would have looked great through sixty minutes. At the intermission, Benkert was 17 for 18 for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

He finished the game 28 for 37 for 384 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception.

Toolbox Trent Comes Up Big

Senior defensive end Trent Harris came up with two sacks in the game, with the second of those coming in the clutch. With Miami leading 31-28  with 6:50 left in the game, Virginia went for it on 4th and 3. Harris beat his blocker for a big sack for a thirteen yard loss and a turnover on downs. Miami’s offense took over at the Virginia 47, and scored five plays later to pull ahead 37-28 (extra point missed.)

Miami’s defense sacked Benkert 5 times in the game, while recording 11 tackles for a loss. Heading into the game, Miami was second in the country in TFL at 8.8 per game.

Turnover Chain

After forcing at least four turnovers in each of their four previous games, the turnover chain made three appearances on Saturday afternoon.

Cornerback Michael Jackson scooped up his team-leading fifth takeaway of the season on a first quarter fumble recovery (forced by LB Zach McCloud).

In the second quarter, Hurricanes running back Travis Homer became the first offensive player to put on the chain. Homer, one of Miami’s standouts on special teams, recovered a Virginia fumble on a botched fair catch of a Miami punt. The Hurricanes scored on the very next play, with Rosier connecting with Dayall Harris on a 36 yard touchdown pass.

In the third, safety Jaquan Johnson pulled even with Jackson for his fifth takeaway on the year, with his 30 yard pick-6 to tie the game at 28. It was Miami’s second interception for a touchdown in as many games.

Miami has forced 27 turnovers this season.

Up Next

Miami will wrap up their regular season on Black Friday with a road test at Pittsburgh. Kickoff between the Miami Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Panthers is set for 12-Noon on Friday, November 24th from Heinz Field.

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