Upset kicked away
Chris Goulds 34-yard field goal lifts Virginia to a last-second win.
MURFREESBORO, TENN. - Thirteen minutes and 50 seconds before he stood over the game-winning kick, Chris Gould missed an extra point.
Six minutes and seven seconds before he led his team on a drive to win the game, Jameel Sewell threw an interception that nearly ended it.
But each made the most of his shot at redemption. Sewell drove Virginia 63 yards in 1:18, and Gould made the last-minute march pay off with a 34-yard field goal with 8 seconds left as the Cavaliers pulled out a 23-21 victory at Middle Tennessee State on Saturday night.
"The offense never lost their faith in me," said Sewell, who was 22-for-37 passing for 223 yards and a touchdown. "They were right there with me. It just gave me confidence to be able to go down and keep driving and get Beep into field goal range."
Gould, christened "Beep" as a child by his grandfather, missed an extra point after a false start penalty followed the second of Andrew Pearman's two touchdowns 1:02 into the fourth quarter. But as he prepared to kick again minutes later, that mistake was far from his thoughts.
"I missed it and you can't have that, because that could have caused us the game, (but) you've got to put that way back in your mind and go out there," Gould said. "Every kick's a new kick."
And this one was a vital one, extending Virginia's winning streak to five games, helping the Cavaliers (5-1, 3-0 ACC) overcome the loss of tailback Cedric Peerman to an ankle injury and keeping them from losing to a non-conference opponent on the road for the second time this season.
"I can't tell you how excited I was after that game, still am," said tight end Tom Santi, who led U.Va. with five catches for 82 yards. "Just as high as I've ever been. People will look at it and say it's an ugly win, we should have beat Middle Tennessee State better than that. It don't matter. A win's a win, and the way that we pulled it out at the end, going from low to high like that, was awesome."
The low came when Sewell, on second-and-8 from his own 12, uncorked a low throw that MTSU cornerback Bradley Robinson scooped up for his 11th career interception and returned 22 yards. Sewell forced him out of bounds at the 1, but a play later, DeMarco McNair scored, and Matt King's extra point put the Blue Raiders up 21-20 with 7:29 left in the game.
Virginia then had to punt after Sewell was sacked for a loss of 13 yards and threw two incompletions. But facing fourth-and-1 from their own 39, the Blue Raiders punted, giving U.Va. the ball back with 1:26 to play and no timeouts. Sewell went to work, completing a 19-yard pass to Pearman and an 18-yarder to Santi. He was sacked again for a 2-yard loss, but responded with a 5-yard completion to Dontrelle Inman and an 11-yarder to Josh Zidenberg. The catch was the first for Zidenberg, a product of Poquoson High, in his four-year U.Va. career.
Sewell then hit tight end Jonathan Stupar on a 12-yard pass, and after Stupar scampered out of bounds at the MTSU 17, Gould came onto the field. His kick set off a celebration the Virginia sideline that included Peerman, crutches and all. Peerman later left the locker room with a boot on his right ankle.
"It hurts," Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill said. "Our guys hurt, because we had a chance to do something special."
MTSU (1-5, 1-1 Sun Belt) led 7-0 and 14-7, but U.Va, rallied, first with Sewell's 20-yard TD pass to John Phillips and then with Pearman's 21-yard option run.
"We're not pretty," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "We're not bob and weave. We got into the middle of the ring, and we slug it out. ... To win on the road, you've got to be ready to go 60 minutes and fight and scratch and win it at the end, and that's exactly what we did."
Copyright © 2007, Newport News, Va., Daily Press