Canes Swamp #16 West Virginia 31-14 in Russell Athletic Bowl

 

It took about a quarter and a half in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Then suddenly, the Miami Hurricanes wiped away 10 years of bowl misery.

Behind four passing touchdowns from quarterback Brad Kaaya, the Hurricanes posted a 31-14 victory over the 16th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (10-3). The win for Miami was their first bowl win since 2006. It also capped off a five-game win streak to end the 2016 season.

A slow start by the Hurricanes (9-4) on offense was the story early on. Their first three drives consisted of nine plays and one total yard. On the other hand, the Mountaineers got on the board first with a 6-yard touchdown run in the first by RB Kennedy McKoy. That score came on the Mountaineers third drive of the game after the Miami defense forced a fumble and a punt on their two previous drives.

Stalled drive after stalled drive for Miami became a reoccurring theme until 6:30 left in the first half. Then, Kaaya connected with freshman receiver Ahmmon Richards for a 51-yard score to tie the game at seven. From that point until halftime, Kaaya and the Canes offense put on a show and scored on another two TD passes to take a 21-7 halftime lead. A 28-yard touchdown reception from Miami tight end David Njoku increased the Canes lead to 28-7 early in the third quarter. By that point, momentum was owned by Miami and the game largely out of reach for West Virginia.

For the game, Kaaya completed 24-of-34 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns tied a personal career-high and a Miami bowl record. The junior quarterback also walked away with game MVP.

A high-tempo Mountaineers offense was held to a season-low in total yards (229) and points (14). Senior quarterback Skylar Howard passed for just 134 yards. The offense was also held to just 11 first downs. A steep drop for a team that averaged 25 first downs a game during the regular season. The program also fell to 3-17 all-time against the Miami Hurricanes.

 

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