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- The Virginian-Pilot
© September 23, 2007
Virginia wasn’t going to blow out Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon, not even with a two-touchdown, first-quarter lead and more offensive spark than the Cavaliers had produced in 12 previous periods of football.
With an offense short on big-play threats and a couple of quarterbacks still holding learner’s permits, the 2007 Cavaliers just aren’t constructed that way. As coach Al Groh said last week, Virginia probably won’t knock anyone out this season.
Groh also noted that decisions count the same as KOs. Virginia got its third straight Saturday, toughing out a 28-23, four-hour marathon at Scott Stadium.
The win lifted the Cavaliers to 3-1, 3-0 in the ACC, a fairly shocking development to anyone who saw the team fail to exhibit much of a pulse in a season-opening loss to Wyoming.
That was only three weeks ago. It just feels longer.
“We might be a little better than most people gave us credit for,” Groh said.
The Cavaliers showed once again that they’ll play for a full 60 minutes, and that, with a team unlikely to flat-out outscore anyone, they’ll probably need to.
As in last week’s win at North Carolina, Saturday’s outcome turned on a handful of big plays. In the end, Virginia made one more than the Yellow Jackets. On an afternoon when the Cavaliers’ wide receivers produced little in the way of positive plays, freshman Staton Jobe finally delivered one, catching a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jameel Sewell with 8:56 left.
Jobe had already dropped a couple of passes, but he wasn’t alone in that department. The passing of Sewell and Peter Lalich was once again scattershot, and receivers were frequently hung out to dry on balls thrown high, low, or behind them.
For most of its ball movement, Virginia relied on its trio of tight ends and on the hard running of tailback Cedric Peerman, who followed last week’s 186-yard effort with a 138-yard afternoon against the nation’s No. 7 rush defense.
The Cavaliers also picked up a defensive touchdown on a bizarre play. It began with defensive end Chris Long deflecting a Taylor Bennett pass back to the quarterback, who tried to spike it the ground, volleyball-style. Bennett’s blow glanced off the ball, though, and it bounced off the helmet of linebacker Clint Sintim into the arms of defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald, who took it 25 yards to put Virginia up 21-7.
“It was like pinball,” Long said.
Long and Fitzgerald, a pair of 280-pounders whose knack for getting their mitts on the ball brings to mind a couple of grizzlies batting down spawning salmon, have three interceptions and five pass breakups between them.
Fitzgerald’s score was the last Virginia would get for nearly three quarters. A muffed punt by Virginia’s Vic Hall kick-started Georgia Tech’s comeback, and the Yellow Jackets (2-2, 0-2 ACC) reeled off 16 straight points.
It was fitting, then, that a muffed punt by Georgia Tech set up Virginia’s final score. Aaron Clark drilled returner Andrew Smith and Trey Womack fell on the ball. On first down, Sewell threw a strike to Jobe on a slant route.
“I think we’ve showed we can bounce back,” Jobe said.
The Cavaliers also showed that they’ve got a flair for the dramatic, and Groh indicated there could be more to come.
“If we’re successful, we’re going to have a lot of games of that nature,” he said.
It shouldn’t be dull.
Ed Miller, (757) 446-2372,
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