Cavs cool in the clutch, again

For the second straight week, Jameel Sewell rallies Virginia to a win in the closing minutes.

Jameel Sewell, Scott Lutrus

Virginia's Jameel Sewell is tripped up by Connecticut's Scott Lutrus. Sewell helped lead the Cavaliers to the 17-16 win. (Andrew Shurtleff, Associated Press / October 13, 2007)


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CHARLOTTESVILLE - Jameel Sewell has been here before. Seven days ago, in fact.

For the second straight game, Sewell and the Virginia offense got the ball back late in the game, needing to put together a scoring drive to pull out a comeback victory. And for the second straight game, they responded.

Virginia held off Connecticut 17-16 on Saturday in front of a homecoming crowd of 60,004 at sold-out Scott Stadium as Sewell, U.Va.'s sophomore quarterback, led the Cavaliers on an 11-play, 79-yard, fourth-quarter drive. Chris Gould's 19-yard field goal with 3:20 to play allowed U.Va. to win six straight games for the first time since 2002 and narrowly avoid a non-conference loss for the second consecutive week.

Gould kicked a 34-yard field goal with eight seconds left as Virginia rallied to beat Middle Tennessee 23-21 on Oct. 6.

"I try not to let it get to me," said Sewell, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown and overcame two interceptions, including a near-disastrous one that set up UConn's only touchdown in the third quarter. "I try to stay calm and try to make sure my team knows that I'm just gonna be there for them, whatever goes on. My team is there for me. I can see it in their eyes every time I look at them -- the offensive line and the rest of the people in the huddle."

On the game-winning drive, Sewell completed first-down passes of 14 and 30 yards to get Virginia into UConn territory. Then, after five rushes by Andrew Pearman moved the ball to the 7, Sewell -- who lead U.Va. with 66 yards on 16 carries -- got to the 1 on third-and-goal.

The Cavs then turned to Gould to take the lead with 3:20 to play.

Virginia coach Al Groh didn't seriously consider going for a touchdown.

"The other team is gonna have to make a lot more plays to beat you" after the field goal, he said.

And the Huskies nearly did.

Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen reeled off back-to-back 11-yard scrambles to get to the Virginia 44. But then UConn crumbled after a bad snap squirted past Lorenzen and rolled 21 yards, back to the Huskies' 35.

Then came a false start to make it second-and-36, and then Lorenzen, trying to escape Virginia's rush, fumbled. Jeffrey Fitzgerald recovered for U.Va. with 2:15 left, effectively ending UConn's chances.

"I guess the nerves got to them," said junior tailback Andrew Pearman, who had 40 yards on 17 carries as part of Virginia's backfield-by-committee rushing game with Cedric Peerman out with a foot injury. "Every game's about who's gonna crack first, and obviously that showed that they did."

Sewell didn't, not even after he misread the Huskies' coverage and threw an interception right into the arms of free safety Robert Vaughn, who returned UConn's 13th pick of the season to the Cavalier 6-yard line. A play later, Lorenzen hit Steve Brouse in the right corner of the end zone to pull the Huskies within 14-13 with 10:31 to play in the third quarter.

"It probably would have bothered me a whole lot, honestly, last year," Sewell said. "I've grown a lot, and what's helped me grow is just the confidence my team has in me. ... I think about it for a little bit, but after 15 seconds or so, it's just out of my head, because I have to bounce back and try to help the team go down the field again and get some points somehow, some way."

After another quarter, four straight Virginia punts and Tony Ciaravino's 25-yard field goal to give UConn a 16-14 lead, Sewell finally did just that.

The Huskies got the ball back with 27 seconds to play after Gould missed a 35-yard field goal, but Lorenzen threw two incompletions and was sacked by Jon Copper before his final pass attempt fell short.

"We were happy to have one more point," Groh said. "We're not interested in who we're impressing. We're just interested in winning games."

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