The tone was set for an aggressive game, as both teams exchanged words earlier in the week and during pregame warmups. When foot met ball, and the game was finally underway, the aggression amped up and both teams played like men on a mission.
After an uncharacteristic fumble by quarterback Skyler Howard on their first drive, West Virginia was able to make the necessary adjustments and jump out early on the Hurricanes after a stellar drive capped by a 6 yard touchdown run by Kennedy McKoy giving the mountaineers a 7-0 lead to close out the 1st quarter.
Trailing heading into the 2nd quarter, after a poor first quarter that saw Miami gain only 19 yards, the Hurricanes got the ball rolling and never looked back. Brad Kaaya, Miami’s all-time leading passer would give his team a much needed spark when he found Ahmmon Richards on a quick slant who raced 51 yards for a score half way through the quarter. After knotting the game up at 7, Miami would close out the quarter with two more Brad Kaaya touchdown passes one to Malcom Lewis and the other to Braxton Berrios with 27 second left in the half.
The momentum shifted in the Hurricanes favor for the rest of the game. Things only got worse for WVU as Miami’s offense came out on its first drive of the second half and marched 75 yards for the score, giving Kaaya 4 touchdown passes on the night. The scoring play saw Kaaya roll to his right and find Tight End David Njoku who rumbled in from 23 yards out. Stacy Coley, who finished with 5 catches for 51, made his biggest impact in the blocking game, drawing praise from Head Coach Mark Richt who said this about Coley “Coley’s out there in front of it finishing off his guy and allowing Njoku to get into the end zone and that’s big, were big on receivers blocking.”
Kaaya knew what was at stake, and turned in one of his best performances, tying a school record with 4 post season touchdown passes in a game. The expectations for Kaaya have been high since he’s stepped on campus, and he’s lived up to that billing. Miami has a rich tradition of great players that come the program. After Wednesday, Kaaya can be mentioned in the same breath as Miami greats such as Jim Kelly and Ken Dorsey. When asked about how he felt to be in the record book he said “It’s just great. Those are great quarterbacks. It’s great to be in the record books with some of those guys. It means a lot to me. Most of all, it’s all credit to the guy around me.”
One person who felt the excitement of ending a ten-year bowl drought was Head Coach and Miami alum Mark Richt who stated ““After all these years of coaching, that is by far the most fun for me, to be in the locker room after a game like that and celebrate, there’s nothing like it.”
Kaaya would end the game with 282 yards on 34 attempts and 4 touchdown passes. Miami fans can now rejoice as the streak is snapped, and the Hurricanes bring momentum into the offseason.