Miami Hurricanes defense has second straight dominant fourth quarter

MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 09: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 09: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes defense had another dominant fourth quarter in their 25-24 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.

After holding North Carolina State to six yards and three points in the fourth quarter last week, the Miami Hurricanes defense held Virginia Tech to 61 yards over the final 15 minutes in a 25-24 victory on Saturday. Miami had a much better defensive performance overall on Saturday than they did last week.

Virginia Tech entered Saturday’s game fourth nationally in rushing yards averaging 277.43 per game. The Miami Hurricanes held the Hokies to 160 yards rushing on 41 carries. In the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech had 10 carries for seven yards. The Hokies finished the game 137 yards below their averaging rushing yards.

Nearly a third of the rushing yardage total for Virginia Tech came from a 53-yard touchdown run from Hokies quarterback Hendon Hooker in the first half. The Hurricanes defense had a much more even performance than last week. Virginia Tech achieved 33 of its 61 yards in the fourth quarter when they started at its own four.

Miami kept Virginia Tech in front of them to prevent long gains and locked down when they had to.  Miami forced the Hokies into three straight incompletions on their last set out down before a four-yard completion followed by a set of unsuccessful laterals ended the game. Jaelan Phillips led the Miami defense on Saturday.

Phillips had his second straight dominant performance with eight tackles, three tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Against North Carolina State, Phillips had 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack. The performance by the Miami defense on Saturday was particularly impressive with five defensive linemen missing.

Starting defensive tackle Jared Harrison-Hunte, reserve DTs Jalar Holley and Jason Blissett and defensive ends Jahfari Harvey and Chantz Williams were all out on Saturday. Former starter Jon Ford returned to the starting lineup to replace Harrison-Hunte and finished with a career-high six tackles.

Virginia Tech had three fourth-quarter possessions that were five plays or less. One possession was three and out and another ended when Te’Cory Couch intercepted Hooker on the first play following the Miami go-ahead TD. It was the second week in a row the Miami defense forced a turnover after the game-winning TD.

Next. Miami game against Virginia Tech almost didn't happen. dark

There are always areas to clean up. Miami has to improve its open-field tackling and Virginia Tech converted seven third downs in 16 attempts. Miami got stops when they needed them most. If the Hurricanes defense continues its dominance in the fourth quarter, Miami can win its last three games and finish the season 10-1.