VIDEO: Led By QB Brad Kaaya, Miami Hurricanes Defeat No. 16 West Virginia 31-14 In Orlando
By Zach Clark // December 29, 2016
Miami Finishes the 2016 season 9-4 (5-3)
ABOVE VIDEO: Miami Hurricanes pulled off the upset against No. 16 West Virginia Wednesday night under the lights at Camping World Stadium in Orlando by defeating the Mountaineers 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. (ESPN Video)
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Miami Hurricanes (9-4) pulled off the upset against No. 16 West Virginia (10-3) Wednesday night under the lights at Camping World Stadium in Orlando by defeating the Mountaineers 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The win gave Miami it’s 9th win and finishing the season 9-4 in Mark Richt’s first year as the Miami Hurricanes head coach.
The ‘Canes started off slow, offensively, Wednesday night, by being held scoreless in the first quarter. However, it was all Miami after that, as the Hurricanes outscored the Mountaineers 31-7 after the opening quarter.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was spectacular Wednesday night in front of 48,625 fans. The junior signal caller tossed for four-touchdowns, 282 yards and was 24 of 34 on his completions.
Kaaya was named the MVP of the bowl game.
After a slow start in the first quarter, Kaaya got to work with a 51-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Ahmmon Richards to put the ‘Canes on the board and tie the game up 7-7 half-way through the second-quarter.
ABOVE VIDEO: Coach Mark Richt | Post Game Presser | 12.28.16
Kaaya wasn’t done. He orchestrated a nice 6-play, 59-yd touchdown drive and finished it with a quick 3-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Lewis to go up 14-7 towards the end of the half.
After stellar play on the defensive side, Miami got the ball with just 1:19 left in the half and on the 30-yard line. That was more than enough time this night as the ‘Canes marched down to the endzone on just 5-plays for 70-yards, thanks to a nice reception by Braxton Berrios for 26-yards to give The U a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Miami started out of the gate hot after halftime with a beautiful connection by Kaaya to junior tight end David Njoku on 23-yard touchdown pass and catch, to cap off an 8-play, 75-yard drive which gave Miami a 28-7 lead after the opening second-half possession.
— RussellAthleticBowl (@RussellAthBowl) December 29, 2016
The other story of the game was the fanatastic defense by The U all night. The ‘Canes held the Mountaineers to just 95 yards rushing and only giving up a total of 134 passing yards.
“That’s the best defense we faced all year,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.
The win gave Miami it’s fifth straight win to end the 2016 season and giving the program tremendous momentum heading into the offseason.
Pending Kaaya’s decision on whether to forgo his senior season, the Miami Hurricanes could be a legit title contender after year one of the Mark Richt era.
“Regardless of if I’m here or not next season, I think this team is headed to greatness,” Kaaya added. “I think there’s a lot of good things going on and a lot of progress has been made, so I think this team will be good regardless of what happens over the next few days.”
Miami fans made their desire known for Kaaya after Wednesday night’s upset win as fans chanted “One more year! One more year!”
ABOVE VIDEO: Brad Kaaya | Post Game Presser | 12.28.16
Finishing tied for second in the ACC Coastal division, the ‘Canes were competitive this year. Only a total of 11- points, over three games, separated this squad from finishing the regular season 11-1. Minus the 37-16 debacle at Virginia Tech in October, the ‘Canes have the pieces coming back next year to make 2017 a very special year.
Still one question remains, will Kaaya stay?
“I mean, not really leaning a certain way right now,” said Kaaya.
“Like I said, I’ve got some soul searching to do. Got to talk things over with Coach [Mark] Richt, Coach John [Richt], some of my teammates, some of the guys who are coming back next season, and then talk to some of my former teammates as well, some of the guys who have left, get some opinions, talk to a couple of mentors of mine, just gather all the information and then make a decision from there, you know. Yeah, that’s pretty much it right now.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Trophies presentation after Miami’s 31-14 win over West Virginia.