Miami Shreds West Virginia 31-14 to Win Russell Athletic Bowl
ORLANDO, FL – The Miami Hurricanes took control early and never looked back as they shredded the West Virginia Mountaineers 31 – 14 to win the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl. The Russell Athletic Bowl win was the first bowl victory for Miami since 2006 and sent the senior class off right.
In what started out as a pretty even contest the Miami Hurricanes exploded in the second quarter to really take control of this game and there seemed to be nothing the Mountaineers could do defensively to prevent Miami from reaching the end zone.
Before the six minute 30 second mark of the second quarter the Hurricanes had all of 40 yards total offense, and went 3 and out five straight times. Heck, the Hurricanes first first down was earned through a penalty but that all changed with one catch. Freshman wide receiver Ahmmon Richards took a short screen pass 51 to the end zone to tie the game for the Hurricanes with six min, 30 seconds left in the second quarter and from there Miami caught fire.
After the 51 yard touchdown Miami went on a six play 59 yard drive as Brad Kaaya hit senior wide receiver Malcolm Lewis for the three yard score in the back of the endzone. Next possession for Miami that drive was followed with a sweet five play 70 yard drive that ended with Kaaya dropping it in to Braxton Berrios on a 26 yard touchdown pass and the Hurricanes never looked back.
Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Mark Richt won his 15th Bowl game and the 40th bowl game for the Hurricanes with the Russell Athletic Bowl victory and also upgraded Miami’s all time record with West Virginia to 17 – 3.
“After all these years of coaching that is by far the most fun for me.” Said Coach Richt about what this meant to his team.”Is to be in that locker room after a game like that and celebrating. There’s nothing like it. I’ve heard the term ‘meaningless Bowl games, I mean it makes me mad to hear that because I know how much it meant to us. If you were in that locker room you would have seen it, if you would have been at practice everyday you would have seen it and I’m just really proud of our guys for busting their tails for us and trusting us.”
With the offense looking like they did early trust was definitely a huge factor. Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya was named the Russell Athletic Bowl MVP with his 282 yards and four touchdown performance. Each of those four touchdowns was to a different wide receiver and despite struggling early Kaaya finished 24 of 34 with no interceptions in what may of very well been his final game in a Hurricanes uniform. The California kid holds most of Miami’s major passing records already and has proven himself as the leader of this team.
“A guy that when things got tough he didn’t quit the U and didn’t let the U sink. Said Brad Kaaya on how he would like to be remembered(if he declares) It hasn’t been pretty the last three years there’s been a lot of ups and downs. We haven’t beaten FSU we haven’t won the ACC Coastal but just a guy who was tough and didn’t quit. Didn’t quit on his teammates, didn’t quit on his U and a person who tried to leave this jersey off better than how he found it whether that’s this year or next year.”
Kaaya said he still has some soul searching to do but that didn’t stop tight end David Njoku from declaring for the NFL Draft just after the game.
Overall the Miami defense really made a huge difference in this game. At first West Virginia was moving the ball but soon the ‘Canes settled in and rocked the Mountaineers offense around. West Virginia was held to 229 total yards on the game and gave up four sacks and one fumble lost on the night, while Miami had 363 total yards, 282 through the air.
The Hurricanes season finished off on a high note with this five game win streak and their first bowl win since 2006. I’d say the Mark Richt beginning could have been better but by the end I think we’re seeing the building blocks of a program back on the rise.
- Darrell Wilkinson MiamiSportsNative.com
- Twitter: @DarrellW_Sports
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