CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — Miami coach Al Golden and his players said a Florida State hangover had nothing to do with their 30-13 loss at Virginia.
The Hurricanes lost a heartbreaker, 30-26 last week, to the nation's top team, and saw their hopes at their first ACC Coastal Division title end.
But it was mistakes, and Virginia's defense, that did them in in the Cavaliers' 30-13 victory on Saturday night.
"We cannot make excuses," Golden said. "We got beat in all three phases of the game."
Golden and his players wouldn't even blame a scary moment early in the fourth quarter. On the kickoff after Virginia went ahead 20-7, wide receiver Herb Waters took a helmet to the head and lay on the field for several minutes. He was carried off on a stretcher, though clearly able to move his extremities.
"I wouldn't say we lost our concentration, but everyone was sad after that," safety Jamal Carter said. "He just waved to us and gave us a thumbs up so that we knew that he was alright."
Waters was taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries, but was released in time to travel home with the team.
On the field, Virginia led 13-7 at halftime and dominated the second half. Only a blocked punt returned 13 yards for a touchdown by Hugo Delepenha Jr. with 1:24 made the score look somewhat respectable. The Cavaliers held the ball for nearly 36 minutes, forced two turnovers and had four sacks.
Miami also was penalized nine times for 59 yards, including one that wiped out a Virginia field goal and turned it into a touchdown.
"That just all starts with discipline," wide receiver Philip Dorsett said. "You can't have that many penalties and expect to win."
For Virginia, Canaan Severin made a spectacular touchdown catch, Darius Jennings and Khalek Shepherd ran for touchdowns and Ian Frye kicked three field goals as Virginia Cavaliers (5-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) ended a four-game skid and kept its bowl hopes alive. The cavaliers will need to end a 10-year losing streak against rival Virginia Tech on Friday night in Blacksburg to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since the 2011 season.
The loss was the second in a row for the Hurricanes (6-5, 3-4).
Duke Johnson saw his six-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing end after gaining 88 yards in 15 carries, and quarterback Brad Kaaya had good numbers — 20 for 33 for 263 yards with a touchdown and interception — but was sacked four times and hit and hurried repeatedly.
Virginia took control late in the third quarter with a 10-play drive. It originally stalled at the 2, but Miami was called for running into the kicker on a field goal try, giving Virginia a first down. Three plays later, Jennings took a jet sweep going right and overran cornerback Artie Burns to score.
Waters was hurt on the ensuing kickoff, and Miami floundered after the lengthy delay. It lost 13 yards on the next three plays, the last a sack of Brad Kaaya by Max Valles that was very nearly a safety.
Shepherd's 17-yard punt return set the Cavaliers up at the 24, and Frye's 22-yard field goal seven plays later made it 23-7. The Cavaliers sealed it when Quin Blanding intercepted Kaaya and Shepherd scored from the 4 to make it 30-7.
Virginia led 13-7 at halftime and could have led by much more.
Trailing 7-0, they had a 13-play drive that included a 3-yard run by Shepherd on fourth-and-2 from the 8. Three plays netted just 2 yards, however, and Ian Frye kicked a 20-yard field goal.
After the Hurricanes punted, Virginia drove 75 yards with Lambert hitting Severin for a diving, one-handed touchdown catch from 23 yards out. On the play, Severin extended his right hand and pulled the ball in while diving into the end zone.
That made it 10-7 with 3:21 left, and the Cavaliers had another great scoring chance before halftime.
It came when Daquan Romero blocked a 44-yard field goal try by Michael Badgley and Maurice Canady scooped it and returned it 65 yards to the 3. There were 29 seconds left, but after Shepherd gained 2 on first down, the clock kept running, even as the crowd and London screamed for a timeout, and didn't stop until just 12 seconds remained in the half. Shepherd was stopped for no gain, Lambert threw incomplete for Severin and Frye finally kicked a 17-yard field goal.
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