The Miami Hurricanes are back on track.
After a three-game losing streak, which included a shocking upset by Middle Tennessee State, the ‘Canes pulled out a 20-14 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium for their first Atlantic Coast Conference win this season.
But it wasn’t without drama.
Leading 20-0 heading into the fourth quarter, Miami (3-3) allowed 14 unanswered points to make it a one-possession game. However, it was too little too late for the Hokies (2-5), as the Hurricanes’ offense did enough to run out the clock after Virginia Tech’s last touchdown.
“Proud of the way we came out,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “Tremendous credit to the players for fighting hard and doing what they did to find a way to win a football game on the road.”
Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, fresh off a 496-yard, three-touchdown performance against North Carolina that earned him ACC Quarterback of the Week honors, had another stellar outing, completing 29 of his 46 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns.
“[Tyler’s] preparation has really gone up another level and he’s also affecting the guys around him,” Cristobal said. “Talented guy.”
Colbie Young led all receivers with 110 yards in his first career start as a Hurricane, which he earned after recording 43 yards and a touchdown reception on Miami’s last scoring drive against North Carolina last week.
Miami’s defense held the Hokies scoreless through three quarters, forcing seven punts in that span, and immediately made its presence felt on the game’s opening drive, when cornerback DJ Ivey forced a fumble from a Hokie receiver that safety Avantae Williams recovered.
The Hurricanes’ offense then took over and Van Dyke quickly got to work with a 30-yard strike to sophomore receiver Brashard Smith. A spectacular one-handed grab by Young followed and brought Miami into the red zone.
On the next play, Van Dyke found Frank Ladson Jr. in the back of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown. The ‘Canes extended their lead with a 28-yard field goal towards the end of the first quarter.
On its next scoring drive, Miami needed only 2:29 to move 80 yards down the field and go up 17-0. Van Dyke dropped a perfect pass right over a Virginia Tech defender and into Young’s hands for a 17-yard touchdown.
The ‘Canes led 17-0 at halftime, outgaining the Hokies by 196 yards.
Miami’s offense stalled in the second half, though, with its only points coming from a 38-yard field goal.
For the third week in a row, the run game was underwhelming, as the Hurricanes’ rushing attack accumulated just 107 yards, even though they averaged 3.8 yards a carry. Freshman quarterback Jacurri Brown was the only bright spot, showcasing his mobility by rushing for 22 yards on two carries.
The lack of offensive production was offset by Miami’s stout defense, which recorded six sacks – 3.5 of them by defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor.
But then Virginia Tech broke through in the fourth quarter with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Grant Wells, who later made it a one-possession game by rushing for a three-yard touchdown with 3:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Miami wouldn’t give Virginia Tech an opportunity to take the lead, though, as it converted twice on third down on its next drive. Van Dyke got the last conversion with his nine-yard rush on third-and-6 to put the game away.
Next up, the ‘Canes return to Hard Rock Stadium to face the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 12:30 p.m.