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Miami loses Harris, then direction

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — As the final Miami players faded into the tunnel, fans stormed the field, a mass of them stampeding down the grass hill in the north end zone.

Within seconds, the center of Scott Stadium was a blur of orange and navy blue, Virginia players lost in the sea of glee.

This one win made the Cavaliers' season. This one loss cost the No. 22 Hurricanes their starting quarterback and probably the ACC's Coastal Division.

Disoriented after an injury to Jacory Harris, Miami fell to Virginia 24-19 on Saturday.

"This might be the hardest one all season," Hurricanes cornerback Ryan Hill said. "It's tough when you come out here and you set the goals so high and every game you play you realize is make or break. To lose the way we did is unacceptable. It's heartbreaking."

The Hurricanes (5-3, 3-2) scored all of their points in the fourth quarter with freshman Stephen Morris under center, but couldn't get the ball back after Travis Benjamin's 60-yard touchdown catch with 4:39 left.

They played much of the afternoon concerned about Harris, who was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter with an apparent concussion.

Coach Randy Shannon said after the game that he didn't know the nature or extent of Harris' injury. A spokesman for the Cavaliers (4-4, 1-3) said Harris had not gone to the hospital.

On first and 10 from the Miami 39, defensive tackle John-Kevin Dolce slammed into Harris with a crushing hit to the chest that propelled Harris high off the ground just as he had launched a deep pass that would be intercepted.

"I just leveled my shoulders. It was a clean tackle, but I think I might have landed on him with my face mask," Dolce said. "It kind of rung my bell as well. You don't wish harm on anyone."

Harris landed brutally on his back, with his helmet appearing to hit the turf first. The junior quarterback lay flat at the 30-yard line for several minutes as UM trainers tended to him. Shannon came out on the field too, and later said that Harris "was talking" as he lay still.

Harris eventually was helped up by three trainers, and with his arms around their necks, walked woozily off the field to a standing ovation from the 39,528 fans.

Minutes later, he limped down the sideline into the locker room still propped up by two trainers.

"It's terrible. We let our brother get hurt," center Tyler Horn said. "There's no worse feeling than saying … that's because of the O-line, that's because of us."

"Jacory was their leader and what changed the game was taking him out," Dolce said.

The game was still scoreless at that point. Then the Cavaliers marched 74 yards, seizing the lead on Marc Verica's 16-yard touchdown to Colter Phillips. Keith Payne rushed 30 yards for the second score with 1:14 left in the half.

Shannon changed quarterbacks at halftime. He pulled junior Spencer Whipple, who was 2-for-6 for 22 yards and two interceptions, and gambled on Morris, who had yet to take a snap this season and would no longer be able to redshirt.

"He's been working and you've got to give the young man an opportunity," Shannon said. "So we went with him, had confidence in him and he responded late in the game."

Morris showed unexpected poise and finished 9-for-22 for 162 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Morris also ran for a touchdown.

He never got a chance for a winning drive.

Miami, which had used two timeouts to stop the clock, surrendered a 20-yard catch to Kris Burd on third and 8 with 2:11 left and the Cavaliers ran out the clock on their first ACC victory under first-year coach Mike London.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Virginia 24

No. 22 Miami 19

Miami loses Harris, then direction 10/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 9:06pm]
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