To begin the home stretch of the season, Virginia (3-4, 1-3 ACC) hosted the Miami Hurricanes (3-4, 1-2 ACC). The last time the Canes came to Scott stadium was in 2018, ranked 16th. The Cavaliers managed to win 16-13; 4 years later, Elliot was hoping to recreate this success and grab Virginia’s first set of back-to-back wins this season.
What we got was an ugly display of football on both sides, with Miami managing to choke a little bit less, grabbing a 14-12 win after four overtimes. Half of those points came from overtime play, with the fourth quarter ending 6-6. That puts into perspective the ineptitude of both offenses throughout the game.
There’s no question Virginia is a defensive team this year, and they continued to show their prowess and determination. The game opened with an impressive kick return to the Canes 35-yard line from Miami sophomore Brashard Smith. Led by redshirt freshman Jake Garcia, in for injured quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, Miami’s opening drive stalled at midfield, forcing a punt from Lou Hedley. Virginia would respond with a similar performance; quarterback Brennan Armstrong managed to scramble his way out of a 3rd-and-13, but this amounted to nothing, with Daniel Sparks later punting at the Virginia 40-yard line.
The punting performance was all to see in the remainder of the first half. Neither team could even get the ball in the red zone until Miami reached the Virginia 20-yard line with under two minutes to go. A 38-yard field goal from Andres Borregales ended the bore-fest, gifting the unhappy fans in Scott Stadium a halftime score of 3-0.
Armstrong and the offense came out of the locker room with a bang, first converting on a 3rd-and-15 with a 30-yard pass to wide receiver Keytaon Thompson at midfield. The subsequent play was bittersweet. With wide receiver Lavell Davis Jr. on a wide-open slant route, Armstrong managed to connect but the pass was underthrown, forcing Davis to stumble backward to make the catch, falling down at the Miami 3-yard line. This was one of many inaccurate passes from Armstrong, as he criminally overthrew open receiver Sean Wilson in the first quarter, another missed touchdown. Virginia embarrassingly failed to convert 1st-and-goal from the 3 to a touchdown, and not due to Miami’s stout defense. No, strange play-calling and poor execution left UVA settling for 3, with Will Bettridge making a 27-yard field goal to tie the game.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Virginia’s next drive also included a trip to the red zone, this time yielding 0 points. Following a check-down pass to running back Mike Hollins that resulted in 64 yards, the Cavs found themselves at the Miami 3-yard line once again, this time with an opportunity to take the lead. Instead, Miami forced them to forth-and-goal, with Virginia electing to go for it. They failed to convert, not due to Miami’s stout defense. Tight end Grant Misch dropped an open pass in the endzone, giving the ball back to the Hurricanes.
Both teams managed to grab another field goal, with Andres Borregales tying the game at 6 as time expired. The Canes also started with the ball to begin overtime, eventually kicking another two field goals. UVA replicated this result, with Bettridge making two field goals, a perfect 4/4 on the day. Now going into two-point conversions, both teams failed in the third overtime. To begin the fourth, the Hoos once again couldn’t get in the endzone, this time a result of an incomplete pass to wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks. Virginia’s defense, no matter how good, finally cracked on Miami’s ensuing try, as Jake Garcia dove for the pylon, gifting Miami the 14-12 victory.
This game went from boring, to frustrating, to downright ridiculous. Offensive coordinator Des Kitchings couldn’t get the offense to score a touchdown after two successive drives down to the 3-yard line. There is no potency, and the few big plays we can generate are either negated by penalties or missed opportunities. It’s plagued the team all year, made even more frustrating by how well the defense has been playing. They are the reason we are even in contention, but they aren’t the ones who are supposed to be putting points on the board. If the continual woes of our offense can’t be fixed, I find it hard to see us winning another game this season.
Virginia hosts rival 21-ranked North Carolina (6-1 3-0 ACC) at home next Saturday. The game begins at noon on November 5th and will be broadcast on ACC Network.
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