In situations like this, it might be wise for Virginia fans to remember an old proverb and not be too choosy. After all, many had begged for a much-needed turn-around on the road and while Saturday's 22-20 victory at North Carolina left things to be desired, it did deliver the most important thing: a road win.
Cedric Peerman piled up 186 yards rushing against UNC.
It represents the first road triumph since last season's Sept. 30 victory at Duke and just the second since a Sept. 17, 2005 win at Syracuse. Just as importantly, the W improved the Hoos' record to 2-0 in ACC play this season.
UVa coach Al Groh was happy that the players got the victory.
"That's what it's all about. To see them come together and [have] the focus and the intensity and, frankly at certain points in the game, the guts that it took to win the game, they can be proud of themselves. And I'm proud of them," Groh said on the Virginia Sports Network. "It's all of us trying to do this together and to see them have that feeling of accomplishment, that's what all the work goes in for."
UVa dominated the rushing yards category to grind out the victory against the Heels. For the second straight week, Cedric Peerman carried the load and set a career high in rushing yards. At UNC, Peerman rushed for 186 yards and 1 touchdown on 30 carries. That followed a 137-yard outing against Duke one week ago.
"Obviously offensively, we were rugged and we were very effective in running the ball. That was a big factor in the game," Groh said. "Cedric once again not only carried the ball but he carried the flag and the heart for the team. But to have those openings, obviously a lot of kids did a real good job to do that."
With the O-Line and Peerman pounding out yards, the Cavs were able to get in position to score and they came up with enough points to win. While all but one drive stalled short of the end zone - a notable concern that even Groh pointed out - kicker Chris Gould made sure the Hoos didn't end up completely empty handed. Gould tied the school record held by Raphael Garcia (VT 1994) and Connor Hughes (GT 2003) by making five field goals. And any points are good points for a team that had scored just three total in its three previous road games.
"That was the message to the special teams players: an across the board, solid performance in all phases on every play. And we got that," Groh said. "As mentioned before, Chris Gould stepped up outstandingly for us."
Of course, Gould nearly was 4 of 5 in the game before instant replay saved the day. On a 48-yarder in the third quarter, the attempt was ruled a miss on the field. But sideline personnel for Virginia insisted that the kick had gone through the uprights. Replays confirmed that suspicion as it sailed just beyond the crossbar and the call on the field was overturned. At the time, it gave UVa a 19-7 lead. In the end, it gave the Hoos just enough points to win.
"Fortunately we do have replay," Groh said. "We had people on the sidelines who were insisting that the kick was good and they brought it to my attention - they were very adamant about it. ... You have to trust what they have to offer. Obviously, that worked out greatly for us; those three points were pretty important. That was our [replay] challenge."
While that moment proved strange, the drama was far from over. North Carolina closed to 19-14 and appeared to have the momentum when Chris Long came up with a huge play on defense. The Heels seemed to be picking up steam at the time on offense as they neared midfield. But when T.J. Yates dropped back to pass on 2nd-and-7, he couldn't get the ball past a leaping Long.
The senior defensive end not only completely stuffed the pass, he managed to grab it before it fell to the ground. He returned his first career interception 25 yards to the UNC 30-yard line. That critical play set up the Hoos' final score.
But North Carolina had one last punch to throw. With time quickly running out, the Tar Heels ripped off 85 yards in just 1:33 and scored a touchdown to pull within two points. On the touchdown play, Yates used play action before finding Richard Quinn wide open in the back of the end zone.
That set up a two-point conversion try for the hosts. Yates lined up in the shotgun and tried to fire a pass over the middle for the tying score. But Virginia defensive lineman Nate Collins batted down the pass and UVa escaped with the 22-20 win.
"We had to make a play at the end and our guys were there to make a play," Groh said. "As with circumstances, sometimes players can get down, a team can crack, and that's the second week in a row [we didn't do that]."
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