NCAA

Virginia scores dramatic win over Miami in final seconds

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Virginia scores dramatic win over Miami in final seconds

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Michael Rocco threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee with 6 seconds remaining Saturday and Virginia rallied from a 10-point deficit to stun Miami 41-40.

Rocco threw four touchdown passes and Virginia (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its second in a row after a six-game losing streak. It was the Cavaliers third straight win against the Hurricanes.

The victory kept the Cavaliers' slim bowl hopes alive. Virginia still has to beat North Carolina and Virginia Tech to become bowl eligible.

Miami (5-5, 4-3) lost despite three touchdown passes from Stephen Morris and a brilliant performance by Duke Johnson. The freshman ran for 150 yards, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and threw a TD pass. The victory also cost the Hurricanes control of their Coast Division title race.

But in the end, it was Miami's defense that let the Hurricanes down.

Rocco led a 16-play, 87-yard drive, keeping it alive with a 9-yard completion to Dominique Terrell on fourth-and-7 from his own 44. Penalties also hurt Miami. There was a late flag for holding against cornerback Thomas Finnie on another fourth down pass that Terrell did not come up with at Miami's 20.

Four plays later, Rocco found the 6-foot-5 McGee in the back of the end zone for the game-winner. He finished 29 of 37 for 300 yards and also threw touchdown passes of 7 yards to Miles Gooch, and 6 and 5 yards to Darius Jennings. The second TD to Jennings pulled Virginia within 38-35 with 5:33 left in the game.

Morris threw for 179 yards with three touchdowns: a 12-yarder to Allen Hurns, 9 yards to Clive Walford and 35-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett, which gave the Hurricanes a 38-28 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Then Virginia coach Mike London ditched the quarterback rotation he had been using all day, put the ball back in Rocco's hands and the junior's pinpoint passing led two touchdown drives.

Rocco even appeared to get a break that went Virginia's way.

He was called for intentional grounding from the end zone under heavy pressure, giving Miami a safety and the ball with just over 4 minutes to play. Replays showed that Rocco was not in the end zone when he threw the ball away, but a review did not overturn the call.

Virginia had to kick the ball to Miami, but its defense held, setting up the finish.

Miami's Johnson would have stolen the show in the first half if the Hurricanes have stopped Virginia. Still, the freshman was impressive.

Johnson ripped off a 52-yard run on the Hurricanes' opening possession, dodging at least three defenders along the way. Two plays later, he threw a perfect 8-yard halfback option pass to Hurns for the touchdown.

Virginia took a 7-0 lead on Rocco's 7-yard pass to Miles Gooch, and after Johnson's scoring pass, Rocco drove the Cavaliers downfield again, and Jennings took a swing pass 6 yards for the TD.

Johnson followed with his big return to tie the score at 14, and Sims came on at quarterback as part of London's rotation. He led the team on a 52-yard march, capped by his 6-yard run to make it 21-14.

Morris hooked up with Hurns from 12 yards to tie the game at 21 on the first play of the second quarter, and the Hurricanes got a break when Virginia tailback Perry Jones unwisely threw a halfback option pass into double coverage and Brandon McGee intercepted and returned it to the Miami 48.

It was the first drive of the game that didn't end in a touchdown, and when the Cavaliers stopped Miami's progress at the 13, Jake Wieclaw kicked a 30-yard field goal for Miami's first lead.

After the wild first half, Walford's touchdown catch was the only scoring of the third quarter, and Virginia cornerback Maurice Canady kept the Cavaliers in the game when he stripped Morris of the ball as he headed for the end zone on a 22-yard run, and also recovered for Miami's only turnover of the day.

Morris atoned with his touchdown to Dorsett on the next series, but then Rocco took over.

The Cavaliers' only first-half drive that didn't end in a touchdown was ended by a halfback option pass that Perry Jones threw into double coverage and Brandon McGee intercepted and returned 26 yards. 

Second half run by Jenkins and Tillman lifts VCU over George Washington

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USA Today Sports

Second half run by Jenkins and Tillman lifts VCU over George Washington

RICHMOND, Va. -- De'Riante Jenkins and Justin Tillman scored 18 points apiece and VCU took control in the second half to defeat George Washington 87-63 on Saturday.

After slowly stretching a 41-37 halftime lead to double figures, Tillman and Jenkins combined for 16 straight points for the Rams (12-8, 4-3 Atlantic 10), who led 73-55 when Tillman's jumper with 5:20 to play ended that run. That basket started a 16-5 run as the lead reached 27.

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Jonathan Williams added 14 points and Marcus Santos-Silva 11 for VCU, which shot 55 percent from the field and went 16 of 18 from the foul line.

Yuta Watanabe had 19 points and Terry Nolan Jr. 15, combing for seven 3-pointers for the Colonials (9-11, 2-5), who shot a season-high 70 percent in the first half, 28 percent in the second. They made 5 of 9 3s in the first half, 2 of 11 in the second.

Hokies unable to slow down M.J. Walker's Virginia homecoming

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USA Today Sports

Hokies unable to slow down M.J. Walker's Virginia homecoming

BLACKSBURG, Va.  -- M.J. Walker somehow managed to secure 18 tickets out of Florida State's visiting-team allotment to take care of various family members who live in Virginia and wanted to come to Saturday's Florida State-Virginia Tech game.

He also gave them a performance worth remembering.

Walker scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Seminoles to a 91-82 victory over the Hokies on Saturday.

Playing in front of numerous family members from Petersburg, Virginia, and other parts of the commonwealth, Walker came off the bench to hit 8 of 13 from the floor, including four 3-pointers to lift the Seminoles (14-5, 3-4 ACC) to their first league road win of the season.

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"They gave me some energy," Walker said. "I was definitely looking forward to seeing them, but I stayed locked in. I was happy that they came, but I just stayed locked in and continued to play my game."

Braian Angola added 14 points for the Seminoles, who had lost three of their past four games since upsetting North Carolina in Tallahassee on Jan. 3. Terance Mann finished with 12.

Justin Robinson paced the Hokies (13-6, 2-4) with 26 points. Virginia Tech has now lost three straight to Florida State.

The Seminoles led the entire second half. Walker -- a freshman who considered Virginia Tech during the recruiting process -- gave Florida State its biggest lead when he scored on three straight possessions. His jumper with 11:57 remaining capped his spurt and gave the Seminoles a 61-47 lead.

"He's had several good games for us this year, so it's not unlike him to be able to do that," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Walker. "I just think today was one of those days where he was focused. The last couple of games that he's played, he hasn't been as quite as consistent as he had been."

Walker later made the biggest play of the game when he made a steal and laid the ball in with 57 seconds left to push Florida State's lead to 79-70. The Seminoles made 12 of 14 free throws in the final minute to seal it.

For the Hokies, the loss was bittersweet. They shot better than 49 percent for the second straight game and hit 10 3-pointers, but came up short again.

"Our 13 turnovers led to 20 points," Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. "That's hard. Obviously, they shoot a high percentage (53.4 percent). Any team does on live-ball turnovers. In the halfcourt, we need to do a better job -- I would be at the front of the list -- and figure out whatever that is to get more consecutive stops."

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BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles possess the depth and length to compete with anyone, but need to shoot well to give themselves a chance to win. They had shot just 27.4 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in their previous four games, but heated up against Virginia Tech, connecting on 9 of 20.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have now lost two home games in ACC play, and their path to a potential NCAA Tournament bid doesn't get any easier, as they face No. 15 North Carolina on Monday. They will have to pull off some upsets in their final 12 games to get back in the at-large picture for a second straight season.

KOUMADJE A DIFFERENCE

Florida State shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the first time since beating Southern Miss on Dec. 21 -- a span of six games. The Seminoles shot 53.4 percent (31 of 58) against the Hokies, and Hamilton attributed much of that to 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje, who played in just his fifth game since missing 11 games with a foot injury. Koumadje, who made 5 of 6 and scored 10 points in just 15 minutes, is now shooting 63.6 percent from the floor since his return.

"We've been a little cold the last couple of games in terms of shooting the ball from the perimeter," Hamilton said. "I thought we would be a good perimeter-shooting team.

"Where we've been mostly challenged, we didn't have Christ Koumadje, so we didn't have an experienced interior game. Today, Christ being out there gave us a presence offensively and defensively that was welcome."

TECH'S TURNOVERS TOO MUCH

Virginia Tech has made taking care of the ball a point of emphasis in recent practices. Players run on a treadmill for 30 seconds after each turnover committed, and the Hokies' 13 turnovers were fewer than the 19 that they committed in their previous game -- a loss at Louisville on Jan. 13. But that's still too many for Williams, who saw his team commit at least 12 turnovers for the fourth time in six ACC games.

"We have made it more of a priority," he said of taking care of the ball. "What I'm trying to do is figure out how to help them because what I'm doing is not good enough to put them in the right position . The evidence and the stats show that we know what our issues are, and that's what we've got to change."

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