- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia’s ACC title hopes and chances of reaching its first Bowl Championship Series were Gore-d yesterday at Scott Stadium.

Miami’s Frank Gore ran for 195 yards on 28 carries as 18th-ranked Miami shook off the effects of a two-game losing streak and proved it is still a gridiron force with a 31-21 victory against the Cavaliers.

The Hurricanes’ revival dealt a near-fatal blow to Virginia’s BCS aspirations, and again showed that the Cavaliers still reside outside of college football’s ruling class.

“We expected to win and go as high as we could go,” said Cavaliers linebacker Kai Parham, after his unit allowed 380 yards of offense. “You are right there — and you miss it. This was our opportunity.”

Gore pounded Virginia for three quarters, and Roscoe Parrish delivered the knockout blows with his speed in the fourth with a 62-yard punt return and a 25-yard touchdown catch to remove any chance of a Cavaliers comeback.

The 10th-ranked Cavaliers, playing before a stadium-record 63,701, proved they can play with the big boys, but still can’t beat them.

“We had too many plays in the game that we know how to play,” Virginia coach Al Groh said, “and we didn’t play them as well as we needed to be played.”

Miami led 24-14 in the fourth quarter after Parrish’s 62-yard punt return on which he sidestepped two tacklers and went untouched for the final 60 yards. Later, Parrish caught a slightly underthown ball from Brock Berlin on fourth down for a touchdown to make it 31-21.

Virginia (7-2, 4-2) lost for only the second time in 18 home games and will need to win out and get serious help — including Virginia Tech beating Miami — to have any chance of reaching the BCS. The Cavaliers will be co-champions of the league if they win out, but will lose most BCS tiebreakers. The Hurricanes’ victory leaves the Hokies (7-2, 4-1) as the ACC’s only team with one conference loss.

Miami (7-2, 4-2) likely will earn the league’s BCS bid if it can win its two remaining games, at Wake Forest and home against Virginia Tech. If that happens, the Hurricanes would have beaten the three teams that could wind up with two losses and should win any tiebreakers. Florida State (8-2, 6-2) also is in the picture if Miami, which beat the Seminoles, and the Hokies each lose.

“I don’t know if we’re coming of age,” Hurricanes coach Larry Coker said. “But I hope we learn from these things.”

The Hurricanes couldn’t rest easy until Parrish’s final catch. Miami built a 24-14 lead, but the Cavaliers proved resilient. A 47-yard run out of the pocket by Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans set up Wali Lundy’s 3-yard touchdown to cut the lead to three with 3:19 left.

Miami then drove to Virginia’s 25. Jon Peattie came up short on a 42-yard field goal try, but the attempt did not count because Coker had called a timeout with 2 seconds left on the play clock. During the timeout, Coker decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 and Parrish caught the ball off his left hip along the right sideline in the end zone.

“I felt they couldn’t cover Roscoe Parrish,” Coker said. “I knew he would be single covered.”

Parrish was a strong complement to Gore. The sometimes-maligned tailback ran for 131 yards and a touchdown as Miami led 14-7 at the break. The ‘Canes had heard all week about Virginia’s league-leading running game, but proved they have a worthy ground attack.

“The first carry I broke, I knew we could run on them,” said Gore, who had runs of 22, 35 and 44 yards along with his 11-yard jaunt to give Miami the lead in the first quarter. “We knew we had to run the ball to win — and we did.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes held Virginia’s rushing attack in check and shut down the passing game. Cavaliers tailback Alvin Pearman posted his third straight 100-yard game with 109 as Virginia rushed for 221 yards. But Hagans completed only 10 of 25 passes with one touchdown (to Heath Miller) with two interceptions, and the Cavaliers had zero net yards passing at halftime.

“We had a lot of bad reads, and a lot of bad passes,” said Hagans, who came in as the ACC’s leader in passing efficiency. “We can’t depend on the running game for 300 or 400 yards a game. We have to depend on the passing game too.”

Miami’s Berlin completed 18 of 33 for 177 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Hurricanes took a 14-7 lead with 3:20 left in the first half following a 2-yard touchdown catch by fullback Talib Humphrey. Parrish’s 45-yard punt return gave the Hurricanes field position at Virginia’s 47. Gore took off on the first play for a 44-yard run down the right sideline wasn’t touched until he was knocked out of bounds at the 3.

Virginia tied the game at 7-7 after a 3-yard touchdown catch by tight end Miller, who made a spectacular catch after tipping it twice. Hagans set up the score by converting a third-and-5 at Miami’s 17 with a 14-yard run.

The Hurricanes led 7-0 when Gore capped a 12-play, 69-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. Gore had seven rushes for 45 yards on the possession, which took 5:35. Virginia got a brief reprieve earlier when Lance Leggett dropped an apparent 35-yard touchdown catch in the end zone.

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