Virginia escapes at Miami, hanging on to win 30-28

Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) congratulates tailback Wayne Taulapapa (21) after Taulapapa scored a touchdown during the first half of a NCAA college football game against the Miami Hurricanes, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Dontayvion Wicks had a circus catch for a touchdown, Brennan Armstrong passed for 268 yards and Virginia added to Miami’s struggles by beating the Hurricanes 30-28 on Thursday night.

Miami freshman kicker Andy Borregales missed a 33-yard field goal try as time expired, the ball bouncing off the left upright. The Hurricanes drove 75 yards in 14 plays on their final drive, almost stealing a game that they never led and trailed 27-14 in the third quarter.

Armstrong — who came into the game leading the nation in passing yards per game, averaging 426 per contest — completed 25 of 44 passes for the Cavaliers (3-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). Wayne Taulapapa and Mike Hollins had rushing touchdowns for Virginia.

Cam’Ron Harris rushed for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Tyler Van Dyke threw a TD pass and ran for another score for Miami (2-3, 0-1). Van Dyke completed 15 of 29 passes for 203 yards in his second start for the Hurricanes.

Virginia nearly wasted a two-touchdown second half lead, which was built off a gift.

Armstrong lofted the ball down the middle of the field into a maze of five bodies — three of them from Miami, two of them from Virginia — near the end zone. Miami’s Marcus Clarke leaped and got both of his hands on the ball around the 4, his downfield momentum carrying him toward the goal line.

Clarke couldn’t secure the interception as he tumbled to the ground with Wicks. The ball got loose, bounced off Wicks’ back twice, then into the air. Wicks ended up sitting in the end zone on his left hip, looked up and snared the ball with his right hand for the score.

Harris had a 57-yard run for a touchdown and Van Dyke got Miami within 30-28 with a 24-yard keeper, but Virginia escaped.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia: Score first in a Virginia game, you win. Each of the Cavaliers’ last nine games going back to last season have been won by the team that scores first, and Virginia has now won eight consecutive games when jumping out to the first lead of a game.

Miami: Fans were booing often, the stadium was more than half empty (the announced attendance, excluding last season’s pandemic crowds, of 37,269 was the lowest for a Miami home game since November 2012), poor tackling was an issue again and the Hurricanes were missing a slew of players — including quarterbacks D’Eriq King and Jake Garcia — with injuries.

SCHNELLENBERGER HONORED

Howard Schnellenberger, who died earlier this year, was the first coach to lead Miami to a national championship when the Hurricanes finished No. 1 in the 1983 season. With his wife Beverlee and several members of his family on the field for the ceremony, the Hurricanes paid tribute to Schnellenberger at halftime by adding him to their Ring of Honor. He won that first title by a 31-30 score, which is what Miami would have won by Thursday had the last kick been good.

AVOIDING 0-3

Virginia’s win means the Cavaliers avoided their first 0-3 start in ACC play since 2013, when they went winless in all eight conference games.

UP NEXT

Virginia: Visit Louisville on Oct. 9.

Miami: Off next week, then visit North Carolina on Oct. 16.

___

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