Live blog: Miami vs. West Virginia, 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl

A view of Camping World Stadium before the Russell Athletic Bowl between Miami and West Virginia. (Matt Porter)

A view of Camping World Stadium before the Russell Athletic Bowl between Miami and West Virginia. (Matt Porter)

[What’s at stake for both teams?]

[Tension flares between Miami, WVU at charity event]

[Miami DE Thomas has a little something for the ‘Eers]

[ESPN analyst talks UM-WVU; calls Walton ‘most underrated]

ORLANDO — The Hurricanes are looking for their first bowl victory in a decade, and a nine-win season in Mark Richt‘s first year. The Mountaineers want the sixth 11-win season in the 125-year history of the program.

Oh, and by the way: there’s some heat between these teams.

We’ll see how tense things are between the teams during warmups, and of course, chronicle the live action in what should be a very competitive Russell Athletic Bowl between Miami (8-4) and No. 16 West Virginia (10-2).

FINAL: Miami 31, WVU 14

Miami gets a stop

With WVU going for it on fourth-and-5 at its 49, Skyler Howard threw high and out of Shelton Gibson’s reach.

Penalties

11 for 108. Miami has eight for 89.

WVU gets a stop

Miami, which punted on its first six drives and scored on its next five, punted for the first time since the 12:18 mark of the second quarter.

Holding penalty on Kc McDermott hurt matters. A declined holding call on Stacy Coley did not.

FG: Miami 31, West Virginia (4:26 3Q)

Brad Kaaya is on an 18-for-20, 247-yard run, but Miami settled for Michael Badgley’s 30-yard field goal after his protection broke down and he was sacked for the first time.

TD: Miami 28, West Virginia 14 (7:50, 3Q)

The Mountaineers are not dead.

Quarterback Skyler Howard scooted into the end zone from 4 yards out, slipping past a near-TFL by Chad Thomas. That was set up by a 26-yard completion, and the 15-yard Pinckney penalty.

Tough call 

Freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney was called for targeting at 10:55 of the third. Pinckney made clear helmet-to-helmet contact with WVU receiver Shelton Gibson, who was spinning to the ground as he was tackled by Corn Elder.

Pinckney was ejected. Darrion Owens took his place.

TD: Miami 28, West Virginia 7 (11:04 3Q)

David Njoku is a problem.

He high-stepped through the end zone after a 23-yard touchdown catch, on which he fought off a leg tackle by safety Jarrod Harper.

Bailing out Miami on the drive:

A huge pass interference call against WVU nullified an interception on a deep ball, and brought Miami out of danger area to its own 43. Not an advisable throw by Kaaya, but it worked out.

HALFTIME: Miami 21, West Virginia 7

As we said: Miami has it rolling.

Brad Kaaya hit Braxton Berrios for a 26-yard touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in the half.

The Hurricanes, after a 19-yard first quarter, wound up with 215 for the half. Though they haven’t run well (2.6 per carry) or converted third downs (0-for-6), they have three plays of 25-or-more yards, including a 51-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Ahmmon Richards that tied the game and got Miami’s offense out of its funk.

Miami held West Virginia to 105 yards in the first half, and has five tackles for loss and three sacks.

TD: Miami 14, West Virginia 7 (2:11 2Q) 

Miami seems to have figured out WVU’s defense.

Brad Kaaya floated a touchdown pass 3 yards to senior Malcolm Lewis, after finding a wide-open Stacy Coley for 30 yards on the drive. He also hit Ahmmon Richards on a perfectly placed slant pass. Mark Walton stiff-armed his way for 14 yards, too.

A loud TFL by Zach McCloud helped force a Mountaineers punt on the previous drive.

TD: Miami 7, West Virginia 7 (6:30 2Q)

Ahmmon Richards took it 51 yards to the house.

Tied.

Freshman All-American, and deserving of the honor. Richards beat WVU’s star cornerback, Rasul Douglas, and made a smart cut around the secondary. Good downfield blocking from his teammates, too.

Breaking: a first down

The Hurricanes achieved a first down for the first time with 11:04 left in the first half.

Brad Kaaya was hit as he threw, and his wobbly throw was intercepted at midfield by

More nice defense

A form tackle by Rayshawn Jenkins, a Zach McCloud pass break-up and another West Virginia punt.

They say defense travels. I say it stays sharp during bowl-season layoffs.

More ugly offense

Brad Kaaya lost a handoff to Mark Walton, picked up a fumble and gained three yards.

Miami punted for the fifth time in five drives.

End 1: West Virginia 7, Miami 0 

As the first quarter ends, Miami defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins is down and very much in pain. He’s holding his lower left leg. Jenkins has a sack in the early going. He limped off slowly.

Miami gained 19 yards and zero first downs, but has two sacks and a fumble, forced and recovered.

Defensive struggle

The pace of the Mountaineers’ offense means they get to third down quicker than most teams.

On third-and-10, West Virginia receiver Dakiel Shorts caught a 20-yard pass to get his team across midfield. However, WVU didn’t convert again on that drive. A low snap was trapped on the ground by Skyler Howard. Punt.

Another offensive line penalty

And another three-and-out.

The penalty, a hold on Tyree St. Louis, was declined. The punt, by Justin Vogel, set up WVU at its own 40.

TD: West Virginia 7, Miami 0 (5:40 1Q)

Miami’s special-teams mistake helped the Moutaineers break the scoreless tie.

Given good field position, quarterback Skyler Howard faked an option handoff and ran 24 yards up the middle. On the next play, running back Kennedy McKoy scored from 6 yards out.

Well that was interesting

West Virginia punt returner Gary Jennings didn’t call for a fair catch, and Miami’s Travis Homer form-tackled him. The ball squirted into the WVU red zone, kicked ahead by Jaquan Johnson, and a pile of bodies fell on it. Before the recovery could be sorted out, Homer was called for interfering with a catchable ball.

Handed 15 yards from the spot of the foul, WVU started at Miami’s 39, with 6:42 left in the first quarter.

Right now, Miami is struggling on offense. It couldn’t protect Brad Kaaya on third-and-7 from the 11. Justin Vogel punted from his end zone.

Another false start — Danny Isidora, this time — had the Canes as far back as their 4-yard line.

Crowd analysis

Split fairly evenly, about 85 percent capacity. Stadium seats 70,000.

Defense came to play

Shaq Quarterman and Courtel Jenkins sacked Skyler Howard, back-to-back, for 22 yards in losses. A WVU false start knocked it back further. But a 57-yard, sky-high punt by Billy Kinney pinned Miami at its 8.

Three-and-out

Miami punted on its first offensive series.

A Kc McDermott false start made it third-and-17. Brad Kaaya found Stacy Coley on the sideline for a big gain, but he couldn’t keep his feet in bounds.

Big play

There’s the talking. Miami defensive players letting WVU know it just recovered a fumble.

Chad Thomas forced. Kendrick Norton recovered it at the West Virginia 40.

Kickoff

No demonstrated conflict between the captains at coin toss.

Miami won the toss and deferred.

The Hurricanes’ entrance:

5 p.m. 

Recap our Facebook Live stream, in which we show you what warmups were like, talk about the matchups, and put you live on the field. We got UM Athletics Director Blake James to join us for a few questions, too.

Check it out (and like our Facebook page, Post on Miami Hurricanes, if you have not already done so).

4:00 p.m. 

A few pregame notes:

– Miami moved from a 2.5-point to 3-point favorite on Wednesday, which is surely going over well in Morgantown.

– The Hurricanes will almost certainly be ranked if they win; it will be their fifth win in a row.

– It will also be their first win over a ranked opponent since last Oct. 31 at No. 22 Duke. The Mountaineers, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, would be the highest-ranked team Miami has beat since its 21-16 win over No. 12 Florida on Sept. 7, 2013.

– Since beating No. 8 Oklahoma 21-20 on Oct. 3, 2009, Miami has beat one AP top-15 team: the Gators, which finished 2013 a dismal 4-8. This, arguably, would be a higher-quality win.

– Players to watch include Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya and tight end David Njoku, who are widely expected to declare for the NFL draft at some point after the bowl. Third-string running back Joe Yearby has publicly alluded that he will declare. West Virginia’s top draft prospect is cornerback Rasul Douglas.

– Expect Njoku, a supreme athlete at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, to be a big part of tonight’s game plan. West Virginia hasn’t seen anyone like him. The Mountaineers’ matchup problem is junior wideout Shelton Gibson, who can fly.

– Hurricanes seniors playing in their final college game include cornerbacks Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert, safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter, right guard Danny Isidora, wide receivers Stacy Coley and Malcolm Lewis, center Alex Gall, fullback Marquez Williams and punter Justin Vogel. It could be the last UM game for two juniors, running back Gus Edwards and defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins. They are exploring transferring, according to a source.

– Uniform watch: Miami is wearing orange jerseys, white pants and orange cleats. West Virginia is in all-white.

– Miami native Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” gave a $250,000 check to the UM athletics department before the game. Through a UM press release, Lemonis said he will match half of every donation made as part of a “Match Marcus” campaign, up to a $1 million gift to UM.

More Russell Athletic Bowl 2016

[WR recruit won’t flip from WVU to Miami]

[Miami believes offense has fixed its issues]

[Right goes in-depth on Kaaya, NFL draft decisions]

[Njoku should be big factor against Mountaineers]

[Holgorsen: Beating Miami would be ‘huge’ for WVU]

[Catching up with UM-to-WVU transfer Crawford]

[Watch Canes geek out during Best Buy shopping trip]

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