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Miami’s offense, opportunistic defense shine in beating Georgia Tech

The Hurricanes crank up their running game and tally four interceptions on the other side of the ball.
Miami safety Kamren Kinchens, right, breaks up pass intended for Georgia Tech wide receiver Nate McCollum (8) in the first half on Saturday.
Miami safety Kamren Kinchens, right, breaks up pass intended for Georgia Tech wide receiver Nate McCollum (8) in the first half on Saturday. [ HAKIM WRIGHT SR. | AP ]
Published Nov. 13|Updated Nov. 13

ATLANTA — Kamren Kinchens had three of Miami’s four interceptions and scored on a 99-yard pick-six, freshman quarterback Jacurri Brown filled in for Tyler Van Dyke and passed for three touchdowns, and the Hurricanes routed Georgia Tech 35-14 on Saturday.

Jaylan Knighton ran 16 times for 118 yards and Brown added 87 yards rushing for Miami (5-5, 3-3 ACC), which broke out of its recent offensive doldrums to net 353 yards, 217 on the ground.

“It feels great,” Kinchens said after tying a school record and becoming the first Hurricane with three interceptions in a single game since Randy Phillips had three in 2006. “A lot of trials and tribulations last week, and we just made it a thing to work hard so we won’t get that feeling no more.”

Freshman quarterback Zach Pyron, starting in Jeff Sims’ spot for the second straight game, was 12 of 21 passing for Georgia Tech (4-6, 3-4).

Zach Gibson, a transfer from Akron, took charge of the offense on the first drive of the fourth quarter with Pyron injured late in the third and quickly threw a deep interception to Kinchens on his second pass that all but ended any remaining suspense in the game.

Brown took charge from there, directing an eight-play, 51-yard drive that ended with Colbie Young catching an 8-yard TD that made it 21-7 with 7:52 remaining. Brown finished 14 of 19 passing for 136 yards.

Miami quarterback Jacurri Brown throws in the second half Saturday.
Miami quarterback Jacurri Brown throws in the second half Saturday. [ HAKIM WRIGHT SR. | AP ]

Brown, who grew up in Valdosta, Ga., had plenty of family and friends on hand to watch his career first start in college.

“It felt great,” he said. “It’s amazing. I feel like everything I went through from when I was younger up until this point was worth it. All the hard the coaching and everything like that was worth it.”

Kinchens, a sophomore safety, ran back a pick of Gibson the distance late in the fourth to make it 35-7.

It hardly mattered that the Hurricanes were without Van Dyke, the reigning ACC offensive rookie of the year who missed the game with a shoulder injury, and starting running back Henry Parrish Jr., who was didn’t play because of an undisclosed injury.

Miami had plenty of firepower to handle Georgia Tech.

Brown connected with Will Mallory on the right side for a 22-yard touchdown that made it 7-0 on the opening possession. It was the Hurricanes’ first touchdown in nine-plus quarters, a span of 138 minutes.

Tyrique Stevenson intercepted Pyron on a deep ball at the Miami 9 late in the third.

Kinchens picked off Pyron at the Miami 3 midway through the first and one possession later, Jaleel Skinner caught a 4-yard pass on the right side to make it 14-0 with 9:26 to go in the second and end a 14-play, 93-yard drive that consumed 7:31.

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“I think everybody is proud of our team for bouncing back and showing the resiliency that they did,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said. “A really good, almost a complete game. We got some performances by a ton of guys. Obviously, Jaccuri got the start and did a lot of good thing, and Jaylan Knighton ran really, really hard. Credit to the offensive line — down three or four starters and rushed the ball really well.”

Georgia Tech finally got on the scoreboard to trim the lead to 14-7 in the final minute before intermission on Pyron’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Nate McCollum, who made an over-the-shoulder catch on a crossing route in the end zone against Stevenson.

“Time of possession ended up being a critical factor in the game, and then you put together the turnovers on our end and the third downs on their side of the ball, those are things that inevitiably affected the outcome of the football game in their favor,” interim Jackets coach Brent Key said.

By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press

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