Wednesday, December 07, 2005

BOBD Part 2

October began with a trip up to College Park and the Maryland Terrapins. The Twerps had been completely unable to muster much offense so far but with a homecoming game against their rivals and their black jerseys on Maryland completely transformed, and the Cavaliers fell apart. While keeping it close with superior offensive play, Virginia's defense was completely unable to stop one of the worst offenses in the ACC. Running back Lance Ball ran all over defenders on a way to a career day. He would become a solid contributor after this breakout game but it was the porous Virginia D that gave him the confidence to shine. Wide receiver Jojo Walker had a fun day beating the secondary around. The one defensive bright spot was the play of sophomore Nate Lyles. Lyles had a huge hit, one of the biggest in UVA history which made ESPN and took out a Terp helmet some 10 yards. Lyles was emerging as a real talent. Brooks was emerging as a shell of his former superstar self. Brooks recorded 0 tackles in his return, he was sluggish and obviously not in game mode. Virginia would suffer from his inability to play at top speed and lost their first game of the year, 45-33.

The road to glory would not get any easier. Boston College welcomed Virginia to its place and proceeded to dominate the first half. Nevertheless, BC kept making critical penalties and errors like 3 missed field goals to keep the Cavaliers in it. Virginia's first half was full of penalties, dropped balls and missed opportunities. However, they were still in it. They would take the lead shortly after a huge call where OL Brad Butler gored star BC DE Kiwanuka and the personal foul was called on the Eagle instead of the real culprit Butler. The fans were angered but not nearly as much as the team itself. The Eagles played like a team possessed after that moment. Nevertheless, Virginia still had a chance when it drove down the field. Deyon Williams, who had emerged as a solid WR suddenly fell apart in the fourth, dropping ball after ball. On fourth and goal, his collision with his own teammate Fontel Mines symbolized the growing frustration in the program. These teams weren't beating UVA, UVA was beating itself. So the Cavaliers fell to 3-2 after the 28-17 loss, and the undefeated Seminoles came in to push that record back to .500.

10 years ago, Virginia recorded its biggest victory ever, defeating the then number 2 Seminoles 33-28. Virginia would go on to win the ACC championship and the Peach Bowl. This year Virginia did everything it could to resurrect 1995, bringing back the old team, putting it on free towels and it worked. FSU opened the game marching down the field until an interception in the redzone. Virginia capitalized to take an early 7-0 lead. FSU bounced back with a long sweep run to tie the score at 7. A pair of field goals deadlocked the game again at 10. Connor Hughes then added another key field goal. Then with less than two minutes to go and on a critical third down, Marques Hagans did what he had done all game, make plays. Scrambling like a mad man, he let his arm do the talking, firing a dart to Wali Lundy who proceeded to rumble his way into the endzone and give the Cavaliers an improbable 23-10 lead at the half. The second half started with another field goal for UVA but then led to a major game of hold on. FSU came charging back with a touchdown and a 2 point conversion to make it 26-18. They then added a field goal late in the 4th to make it a 5 point game. A key pass interference call gave Virginia a critical first down to keep the clock moving. When they punted, there were only 56 seconds remaining. In 1995, the Cavaliers had to stop the Noles at the goal line to prevent a loss, this time it took only one play as Marcus Hamilton picked off the pass of his career, insuring a huge victory for Virginia. The loss seemed to push the Noles into a tailspin, though they would go on to win the ACC championship over VT, this loss exposed weaknesses and an eventual 3 game losing streak in November. The Cavaliers had hope, at 4-2 there season was not lost. They still had a tough schedule in November, but maybe they could make a run to remember.

These dreams were not to be. In Raleigh, North Carolina had a bye week and they were ready for Virginia. While the Orange Crush defense stood tall after an early touchdown, that proved to be all the Tar Heels needed. Marques Hagans had been brilliant last week, but now he could not do anything right. Passed sailed over his targets, he could not escape the pocket and the running game could not muster up anything. A safety and a field goal were all the Cavaliers could produce. One critical pass to Michael Johnson was the key. Hagans had thrown it just low enough for it to hit the helmet of the UNC player. A few inches more and UVA's season could have been much different. Instead the Cavaliers back up the biggest win with their biggest loss, 7-5 against UNC. Once again Virginia had lost a rivalry game and lots of momentum. They entered November with a 4-3 record. Now many wondered if they would even make a bowl. Temple would be a given, but UVA would have to find a way to beat either GT, VT or Miami. It would not be easy, but Virginia had already doesn't like things simple.


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