Miami Hurricanes Name Top Ten Plays of the Year

BY Fansided and Alan Rubenstein/FanSided via Canes Warning • December 14, 2016

Nov 5, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton (left) celebrates with Hurricanes running back Crispian Atkins (right) during the second half against Pittsburgh Panthers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes had a lot of outstanding performances this season. The football program honored the Ten Best Plays of the Season at their annual awards banquet Sunday night.

Some of the plays showed off incredible athletic feats, others were key plays that led to victories and others came unexpectedly. A few of these plays add the the great Miami football history.

Mark Walton was the only player with two plays on the list. The list is really the top 11 plays, with a tie for tenth. The game against Pittsburgh had the most plays in the top ten with three. Two plays against Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Florida State also made the list.

10 (TIE). Michael Jackson recovers a fumble in the endzone at Notre Dame to give Miami a 27-20 lead over the Irish.

The touchdown completed a Miami comeback from 20-0 down in the second quarter and gave the Hurricanes a short lived lead. The Fighting Irish scored 56 seconds later on a Josh Adams 41 yard touchdown run. They closed the game out with a Justin Yoon 23 yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining to win 30-27.

Next: 10. (TIE) Michael Badgley connects on a season-long 51-yard field against Florida State.

10. (TIE) Michael Badgley connects on a season-long 51-yard field against Florida State.

Miami entered their 2016 meeting with Florida State as the higher ranked team for the first time since 2010 when the Hurricanes were 13th and the Seminoles 23rd.

Miami opened the scoring on a Badgley 37 yard field goal. They extended the lead on a Brad Kaaya to Stacy Coley 21 yard touchdown pass. Badgley’s 51 yard Field Goal Extended the Hurricanes lead to 13-0 1:06 before halftime.

The Seminoles Ricky Aguayo kicked a 31-yard field goal with six seconds remaining before the half to cut the lead to 13-3.

Badgley would play large later in the game. Kaaya connected with Coley again on an 11 yard touchdown pass with 1:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. Badgley’s potential game tying extra point was blocked, the Seminoles ran out the clock and escaped with their seventh straight victory against the Hurricanes, 20-19.


9. Kendrick Norton forces a fumble against Pittsburgh, which sets up a touchdown

Norton stripped the Panthers Quadree Henderson of the the football on Pittsburgh’s second play from scrimmage in the second half. Chad Thomas recovered and the Hurricanes scored three plays later on a Kaaya to Coley three yard touchdown pass. The touchdown and Badgley’s extra point extended Miami’s lead to 34-21 and Pittsburgh never got any closer.

Henderson had a 100 yard kickoff return that tied the game at seven in the first quarter.


8. Mark Walton dashes 80 yards to the endzone on the first play of the game at Appalachian State.

The game was being called the biggest home game in Appalachian State history. Miami was the biggest name program to ever play a game in Boone, North Carolina. The Hurricanes brought five national championships, a 2-0 record and the nation’s 25th ranking.

The Mountaineers crowd was expected to be loud and boisterous. They were excited for a potential upset. Things started well when App State converted a third and two on their third play of the game for a first down.

They were not able to pick up another first down. The Hurricanes took over at their own 20 after a touchback on a Mountaineers punt. Walton did the rest on the ‘Canes first play from scrimmage.

The play silenced the crowd and quickly took away any momentum App State had with their first down. Miami scored 24 points before the Mountaineers answered. Applachian State pulled within 24-10 on their first drive of the second half.

Miami scored 21 unanswered points to cruise to a 45-10 victory and silence the naysayers that called for an Appalachian State upset. The Hurricanes will have a similar game when they travel Jonesboro, Arkansas to play Arkansas State next season.

7. Corn Elder sacks Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert to stop the Cavaliers first drive of the second half. 

After Miami had extended their lead to 20-14 on a Badgley 44 yard Field Goal, the Cavaliers were moving the ball and had a pivotal third and nine at the Miami 41 yard line.

Elder came around Benker’s blind side and sacked him for a loss of seven yards. Miami’s Joe Jackson recovered and the Hurricanes took over at midfield.

Miami drove to the UVA 33, before Badgley missed a 50 yard Field that would have extended the lead to two scores.

6. Ahmmon Richards hauls in a 77-yard pass from Brad Kaaya to give the Hurricanes a 27-14 lead at Virginia.

Virginia went three and out after Badgley’s missed field goal. Miami took over at their own 18 after a UVA 40 yard punt.

On third and five, Kaaya hit Richards on the right sideline and the freshman receiver did most of the work, taking the short pass to the house to extend the Miami lead to 27-14.

Walton later closed out the scoring with a 15 yard run in the fourth quarter. Miami outscored the Cavaliers 17-0 in the second half for a 34-14 win. It was the Hurricanes first road win in over a month after losses at Notre Dame and Virginia.

Two plays after Miami Freshman Shaquille Quarterman returned a fumble by Georgia Tech Quarterback Justin Thomas for a touchdown, Quarterman’s classmate did the same. Like Quarterman, Jackson had a scoop and score. Jackson ran back another Thomas fumble 18 yards for a touchdown.

The fumbles came on back to back Thomas carries and extended a 14-7 Miami lead to 28-7. The Yellow Jackets closed the gap to 28-21 in the second half, but a Kaaya to Coley 31 yard touchdown pass with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter closed out the scoring as the ‘Canes won their ACC Opener 35-21 in Atlanta.


4. Stacy Coley tiptoes his way into the endzone to give the Hurricanes a 10-0 lead at Florida State. 

The Miami-Florida State meeting was being billed as the game that would show “The Hurricanes are back”. Miami was off to a 4-0 start and sky rocketed to number ten after not being ranked in the pre-season. This was a new look Miami program with Mark Richt at the helm.

The Hurricanes entered the game ranked ahead of Florida State for the first time since 2010. Badgley gave the U a 3-0 lead with a 37 yard field goal with 1:16 remaining in the first quarter.

Two drives later the ‘Canes went 76 yards in ten plays to extend the lead to 10-0. Coley did a brilliant job getting his feet down in the right corner of the end for a 21 yard touchdown connection with Kaaya.

Njoku showed off his improbable athleticism for a tight end when he took a screen pass from Kaaya at the Pitt 14 yard line, ran across the field to the left sideline and leapt over one of his teammates and a Panther defender into the end zone to give Miami a 7-0 lead. Njoku showed off his prowess as a national high jump champ in high school.

Georgia Tech’s Thomas was blindsided by Miami Defensive End Chad Thomas, Quarterman picked up the fumble and ran it in 17 yards for a touchdown to extend the Miami lead to 21-7. The play occurred 52 seconds after a Walton 14 yard run gave Miami a 14-7 lead and 17 seconds before Jackson’s scoop and score extended the lead to 28-7.

1. Mark Walton rushes 55 yards to the endzone to give Miami a 51-28 lead over Pittsburgh.

The game against the Panthers was full of highlights on both sides. Three were memorable even in a game that had 79 points. Njoku’s flip into the end zone will go down as one of the most athletic plays in Hurricanes history.

Quadaree Henderson answered Njoku incredible leap with 100 yard kickoff return.

Walton’s run put the game out of reach, as the Panthers were still within two scores when the Hurricanes leading rusher broke six tackles on his way to the end zone with 2:12 left to put the game out of reach.

The win against the Panthers was arguably Miami’s most important of the season. It broke a four game losing streak and turned the Miami season around. The ‘Canes would close the season with three more victories to finish 8-4 and with a four game winning streak.

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