Rocco finds McGee in end zone with six seconds left
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Michael Rocco knew where he wanted to go with the ball and flashed his intended target a look.
"He gave me a little, basically, don't [mess] this up" look, tight end Jake McGee said after he caught a game-wining 10-yard pass from Rocco with six seconds to go Saturday. The play capped Virginia's rally from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit that stunned Miami 41-40.
McGee made the catch at the back of the end zone, but Rocco didn't entertain the idea that his tight end had stepped out.
"Not the way we were feeling right then," Rocco said before acknowledging that seeing the replay was "pretty special."
The touchdown pass was Rocco's fourth of the day and gave Virginia (4-6, 2-4 ACC) its second consecutive victory following a six-game losing streak. It was the Cavaliers' third straight win against the Hurricanes.
The Cavaliers still need to beat North Carolina on Thursday night and then Virginia Tech to become bowl eligible, but after thumping N.C. State 33-6 last week and rallying against the Hurricanes, it's looking more like a possibility.
"We put ourselves in a big enough hole where we can't lose again," McGee said. "We've got to keep doing it."
Miami (5-5, 4-3) lost despite three touchdown passes from Stephen Morris and a brilliant performance by Duke Johnson. The freshman ran for 150 yards on just 16 carries, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and threw a TD pass.
The victory also means the Hurricanes need to win at Duke on Nov. 24 to claim their first Coastal Division title and a spot in the ACC championship game. The school is still determining whether it would accept the berth or self-impose a postseason ban for the second season in a row while an NCAA investigation into its compliance practices continues.
In the end, Miami's inability to derail Rocco's precise passing let it down.
"It was terrible," Miami coach Al Golden, a former Virginia assistant, said of allowing Virginia to convert nine of 14 third-down plays. "I think we were near 50 percent on offense, and I don't know if we stopped them at all on defense."
The final drive took 2:32 and was hard to watch, Miami wide receiver Allen Hurns said.
"I thought we had control, and I thought we were going to win the game," he said. "It was tough. It was very difficult to watch them take the ball down the field. ... I was depending on my defense to put a stop to it, but obviously we didn't get it."
Rocco, who again shared quarterback duties with Phillip Sims, led a 16-play, 87-yard drive. He kept it going with a 9-yard completion to Dominique Terrell on fourth-and-7 from his own 44. The Cavaliers also got officiating help in the form of a late flag for holding against cornerback Thomas Finnie on another fourth-down pass that Terrell did not come up with at the Miami 20.
Four plays later, Rocco found the 6-foot-5 McGee in the back of the end zone for the game-winner.
"He is the [primary receiver] whenever there is six seconds on the clock and you need a touchdown," Rocco said.