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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP & hurricanesports.com) - Going back to World War II, only three Miami coaches won their first two games with the Hurricanes.
That is, until now.
Brad Kaaya returned from a one-game absence to pass for 286 yards and two touchdowns, Stacy Coley had 132 receiving yards with a score and Miami topped Virginia 27-21 on Saturday. The Hurricanes moved to 2-0 under interim coach Larry Scott, who joined Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson and Larry Coker as the only coaches in the last 70 years to have such a start with Miami.
David Njoku had a 5-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring and set up Mark Walton's 1-yard fourth-quarter scoring run with a 58-yard grab for Miami (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which is bowl-eligible and still in the race for the ACC's Coastal Division title.
Matt Johns completed 29 of 42 passes for 280 yards for Virginia (3-6, 2-3), which lost its 14th consecutive road game and needs to win out in order to reach a bowl for the first time since 2011. The Cavaliers had a fourth-quarter touchdown nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty, and Miami put the game away with a field goal from Michael Badgley on the ensuing drive.
Ian Frye kicked four field goals for the Cavaliers, including a 47-yarder that made it a six-point game with 35 seconds left. But Miami recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Cavaliers were down 14-5 in the second quarter then put together 10 unanswered points for the lead. Olamide Zaccheaus capped a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard run for score midway through the third to put the Cavaliers on top 15-14.
It lasted all of 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Miami came right back with a field goal to reclaim the lead then Kaaya finding Njoku on a long catch-and-run set up the touchdown run by Walton that allowed the Hurricanes to finally exhale.
Miami was without Artie Burns, the junior cornerback whose mother died unexpectedly late last month. The Hurricanes said Burns missed the game because of the strain of his family situation.
It's the first time since 2008 that Miami swept its ACC rivals from the state of Virginia. The Hurricanes topped Virginia Tech 30-20 earlier this season.
Miami's win sets up a huge game at North Carolina (8-1, 5-0) next weekend. The Hurricanes have to win to remain in the Coastal race, while the Tar Heels could potentially wrap up the division title.