MIAMI GARDENS — It’s not hard to pinpoint when Miami’s comeback started.
The Hurricanes last second Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter trailing 28-0 gave them some much-needed momentum going into halftime after the offense turned the ball over five times and made a switch at quarterback.
Backup quarterback N’Kosi Perry heaved a 38-yard pass that bounced around in the end zone and ended up in wide receive Mark Pope’s hands.
Perry continued to slice up Tech’s secondary for more than 200 yards in the second half and brought the team within an extra-point of taking the lead. He was 4 for 7 for 54 yards including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brevin Jordan on Miami’s opening drive of the second half, but it all started with the Hail Mary.
“First of all, they looked like giants,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said after the 42-35 win. “When the ball was in the air, it looked like they had guys that were huge. But the best I could tell was, it looked like we were all behind them,”
Tech had four defenders — Divine Deablo, Rayshard Asbhy, Jovonn Quillen and Chamarri Conner — right where the ball initially landed and they all tried to bat it down, but none of them got a hand on it.
“Trying to knock the ball down, which is what we teach, but it didn’t look like we had anybody in front,” Fuente said.
Miami tight end Will Mallory was in the midst of the sea of defenders and the ball went off his arm to his teammate.
Tech only rushed three down linemen on the play — TyJuan Garbutt, Norell Pollard and Emmanuel Belmar — something defensive coordinator Bud Foster regretted as the play unfolded.
“I kind of kicked myself in the tail,” Foster said. “You get in that deal where you drop or you pressure or even get a chance to pressure. I was concerned about certain pressures and not having enough people deep if you didn’t get the quarterback on the ground or make him move or he was able to get clean and make a throw.”
Foster credited Miami for making a “good play”, but promised to take a look at it on film and adjust his strategy if the Hokies face a similar situation in the coming weeks.
“We practiced that play,” Foster said. “It’s hard to practice that play because you don’t want a lot of bodies down there and guys falling all over and rolling an ankle or hurting themselves. But we’ll go back and look at that again. We usually go back on Sundays and work on some of the plays that we need to execute a little better. And that will be one of them, we’ll get a chance to do that.”