When Virginia tailback Cedric Peerman was stripped of the ball on the Cavaliers' first play of overtime, the Hurricanes (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) had their fourth victory in a row--and a spot in the tight battle for a berth in the ACC championship game.
Virginia (5-4, 3-2) had its four-game winning streak end, and in heartbreaking fashion, too, after shutting down the ACC's best scoring offense until the very end.
Miami's tying drive was a 95-yard, 15-play march, and it featured a 13-yard pass on a third-and-13 play at the beginning, and the touchdown on a third-and-15 prayer at the end.
"Unbelievable," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "These guys came out and they never quit. They kept fighting, they kept trying to press on and every time we put ourselves in a bad situation with penalties, they found a way to get it done."
In the overtime, Harris faced a third-and-5 from the 9 when he passed to the 6-foot-2 Johnson, who beat 5-9 cornerback Vic Hall for the ball to give the Hurricanes the lead.
Hall also was beaten on the tying touchdown when safety Byron Glaspy fell down and Harris got away from pressure and lofted an ugly, arching pass that remarkably found Byrd.
The catch was Byrd's first of the day and just his 13th of the season.
Johnson also recovered a fumble by Virginia quarterback Marc Verica at the Miami 32 yard line after a 10-yard run late in regulation. The two fumbles were the only turnovers of the day for the Cavaliers, who struggled all game to get anything going on offense.
Virginia's defense took the ball away in Miami territory on consecutive possessions in the third quarter, but the first drive yielded four yards and ended in a punt. The second stalled at the Hurricanes' 21, and Yannick Reyering was wide right on a 38-yard field goal try.
Reyering later missed from 47 yards, and when Verica's passing got the Cavaliers to the Miami 27 midway through the fourth quarter, he was sacked for a 13-yard loss by Allen Bailey on a third-and-2 play, moving them out of field-goal range and keeping it at 17-10.
Harris finished 12-for-21 for 160 yards for Miami, and Craig Cooper ran for 131 yards on 24 carries as the Hurricanes outgained Virginia 448-311 and overcame 81 yards in penalties.
Verica was 27-for-41 for 240 yards for the Cavaliers. He hit Jared Green for a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter to make it 17-10, and Miami did the rest of the scoring.