CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Sports Network) - Corey Mosley and Chase Minnifield each had two interceptions to lead a ferocious Virginia defense, as the Cavaliers recorded five interceptions and knocked Jacory Harris out of the game before fighting off a Hurricanes rally in a 24-19 victory over 22nd-ranked Miami.
Rodney McLeod also picked off a pass for Virginia (4-4, 1-3 ACC), which snapped a nine-game conference losing streak after recording five interceptions for the first time since 1994 against Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers, who nearly blew a 24-0 fourth-quarter lead, also recorded their first win against a ranked Miami team, having lost the first four such games.
Keith Payne led an efficient running attack with 17 carries for 81 yards and a pair of scores, while Marc Verica completed 19-of-27 passes for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Virginia in the win.
Harris passed for 85 yards on 7-of-13 attempts before getting knocked out of the game on a hard hit in the second quarter, as Miami (5-3, 3-2) had a three- game road win streak snapped.
Spencer Whipple threw only six passes and was intercepted twice before giving way to true freshman Stephen Morris, who completed 9-of-22 passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Morris also ran for a score.
Trailing, 24-0, early in the fourth quarter, Miami staged a near-improbable rally.
Leonard Hankerson caught a 29-yard touchdown pass with 10:34 left to ensure the Hurricanes would not be shut out, but the two-point conversion attempt failed after a five-yard penalty was assessed.
Morris ran for a nine-yard score with 4:54 to play to pull the Hurricanes to within 12, and the extra point attempt was no good, leaving Miami without an opportunity to tie the game with a touchdown, two-point conversion and field goal.
The Hurricanes were forced to go for an onside kick, which they recovered at their own 40. On the next play, Morris his Travis Benjamin down the right sideline, and he was able to race all the way to the end zone after a cornerback slipped and fell for a 24-19 contest with 4:39 to go.
The Cavaliers, though, were finally able to fend off the comeback on their next drive. After two rushes totaling seven yards, Verica hit a wide-open Matt Snyder for a six-yard completion and a key first down. Another two rush attempts went for two yards, as Miami took its first two timeouts with just over two minutes to go.
Faced with 3rd-and-8, Virginia could basically seal the outcome with a first down, and Verica was able to convert, finding Kris Burd downfield for a 15- yard gain. The Cavs were able to run out the rest of the clock from there.
Miami looked to get on the board on the game's opening drive, electing to go for it on 4th-and-3 from the UVA 31. Harris' pass attempt, however, fell incomplete to end the series.
Neither team got deep into opposing territory for the remainder of the quarter, until Virginia began a drive at its own 26 following an interception, which knocked Harris out of the game.
Consecutive completions of 10 and nine yards, respectively, began the drive, and a holding penalty on Miami on 3rd-and-4 from the Hurricanes' 48 extended the drive. Like their opponents earlier in the contest, Virginia elected to go for it on 4th-and-3 from the 16, and the move paid off when Verica hit Colter Phillips for a touchdown.
Miami ran the ball four consecutive times on its ensuing touch and got down to the Cavaliers' 15, then ran its first passing play with Whipple under center. Virginia capitalized, as Mosley intercepted the throw at the eight-yard line to halt the momentum.
Mosley returned the ball all the way to the Hurricanes' 48, and the Cavaliers moved the length of the field in six plays, culminating on Payne's 30-yard scamper into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 1:14 to play in the first half.
Virginia tacked on three more points midway through the third quarter on Robert Randolph's 32-yard field goal.
Miami seemed as though it would finally get on the board with a first down on the UVA 15, but Minnifield made a spectacular acrobatic interception in the end zone, keeping one foot barely in bounds to give possession back to Virginia with a minute left in the third quarter.
On the Hurricanes' next offensive play, Mosley picked off Morris yet again, weaving his way in and out of defenders all the way down to the Miami five- yard line. Payne ran it into the end zone on the next play for a 24-0 score with 12 minutes to play.