ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Brad Kaaya tied a career best and Miami bowl record with four touchdown passes, and the Hurricanes finally snapped a 10-year bowl drought by beating No. 14 West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Wednesday night.
Kaaya completed 24 of 34 passes for 282 yards for Miami (9-4), which had lost its last six bowl appearances. Kaaya already held Miami’s career record in yards and took over the school’s No. 1 spots in completions and attempts.
Kaaya was selected the game MVP.
The Hurricanes punted on their first six possessions, then scored on their next five to erase an awful start. Kaaya connected with Ahmmon Richards, Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios for touchdowns in the final 6:30 of the first half to get Miami rolling, and then found David Njoku for another touchdown on the first possession of the second half.
Skyler Howard passed for 134 yards and ran for a touchdown for West Virginia (10-3), which fell to 3-17 against Miami. Kennedy McKoy also had a touchdown run for the Mountaineers, who committed 11 penalties and allowed four sacks.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers fell short of tying a school record for wins in a season. There have been five teams in West Virginia’s 125 years of football to win 11 games. … West Virginia fell to 2-10 in bowl games played in Florida. … It was the first time the Mountaineers and Hurricanes played since 2003, when both were in the Big East.
Miami: Freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney was ejected for targeting with 10:55 left in the third quarter, and per NCAA rule will have to sit out the first half of next season’s opener. … Not only did Miami punt the ball on its first six possessions, but it went three-and-out on the first five of those.
Among the 109 teams that won bowl games since Miami’s last postseason victory in 2006: The other Miami (Ohio), Old Dominion (which didn’t even have football in 2006), and all six of the other FBS teams from the state of Florida — Florida, Florida State, Central Florida, South Florida, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.
Lewis wrapped up his Miami career in a most memorable way. His TD catch in the second quarter was his first in a 35-game span for Miami, and was the third scoring grab of his career. The bowl game was Lewis’ 50th and final game as a Hurricane, making him the 11th to play so many at Miami. His freshman season in 2012 ended after four games when he endured a badly broken ankle at Georgia Tech, so he was able to get a fifth year of eligibility.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers ended this season against an ACC opponent, and start next season with one. West Virginia plays Virginia Tech at FedExField on Sept. 2.
Miami: The Hurricanes’ Week 1 opponent for next season hasn’t been announced, one of many things to be sorted out in the coming weeks.
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