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UVA FOOTBALL: Cavs demolish Orange Bowl
UVa lays record beatdown on Miami

By Jay Jenkins  / jjenkins@dailyprogress.com | 978-7250
November 11, 2007

UVA v Miami Football
Virginia's Jon Cooper, top, goes over Miami's Lee Chambers (32) after Cooper intercepted a Miami pass in the first quarter of a football game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007, in Miami. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)


MIAMI - Touted as a monstrous celebration, the University of Miami rolled out the red carpet Saturday night for its final contest in the historic Orange Bowl.

They had laser lights, confetti and star-studded guest list that included baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

Thanks to Virginia, however, the mood more resembled a funeral than a gala.

The 23rd-ranked Cavs drilled Miami, 48-0, scoring in each quarter en route to the program's first-ever win in the state of Florida in historic fashion. It marked the first home shutout for the Hurricanes (5-5, 2-4 ACC) since Oct. 4, 1974 and the worst loss since 1998.

"It's a bitter loss," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "A tough one, especially with it being the last one in the Orange Bowl and you lose 48-0. It's very tough.

"I feel very bad and disappointed for the city of Miami, Dade County and the University of Miami. I was expecting a better turnout from us as a team and I'm disappointed because it hurts."

Virginia (9-2, 6-1 ACC) enjoyed the role of spoiler, churning out 418 yards of total offense, forcing five turnovers and blocking a punt in the process.

"It was a very dynamic atmosphere," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "But the only thing that was going to determine the outcome was what happened between the white lines. Obviously, our team was very focused as far as what they had to do in that circumstance.

"We are very respectful for what Miami has done in the Orange Bowl, but that's the University of Miami's history. We just came down here to play a game tonight."

Any doubt that Virginia could thrive in the national spotlight was answered on its first offensive possession.

After starting at their own 4, the Cavaliers raced down field in just seven plays. The drive, which took just over three minutes, was capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jameel Sewell to wideout Maurice Covington, who finished with three catches for 50 yards.

"We knew they were going to come out with a lot of intensity and we figured if the defense got a stop that we would quiet the crowd and take a lot of the energy out of [the Orange Bowl]," Virginia running back Mikell Simpson said. "That was a huge drive."

As Miami, which finished with only 189 yards of total offense, floundered for the remainder of the first half, Virginia continued to pull away, scoring three more first-half touchdowns.

Reserve tailback Keith Payne scored on a 5-yard run with 1:08 left in the first quarter, Sewell plunged in on a 1-yard run with 10:02 left in the second quarter and Simpson added another just five minutes later.

By halftime, when special events had been planned on the field, Virginia led 31-0.

"We talked about that we wanted to come here and make a statement for our team," Virginia linebacker Jon Copper said. "We knew there were a lot of things going on and that Miami would be up for that, but we are trying to do things we have never done before."

Virginia did just that in the third quarter. In fact, the Cavaliers scored their first third-quarter TD since the eighth game of the 2006 season (North Carolina) when Simpson reached the end zone on the first drive after halftime.

The Cavaliers also added a 41-yard field goal and a touchdown on a 44-yard fumble recovery by cornerback Chris Cook to make matters worse for Miami.

"We had too many turnovers, receivers had balls hitting them in the hands, tipped balls, connections on pass routes, the defense not getting off the field on third down and too many busts in coverages," Shannon said.

Sewell finished the game with a career-best 288 yards passing as he completed 20 of 25 passes.

"He continues to step up and give our team what it needs," Groh said. "As the leader of the team, the way he plays is symbolic of the team."

Kyle Wright's play was also symbolic. The senior finished 9 for 21 for 94 yards and threw three interceptions.

Virginia, after a bye week, will close out the regular season on Nov. 24 at Scott Stadium against Virginia Tech in a game that will determine the division winner.

"That's what we set out for," Groh said. "The goal of the program is to win the division because if we win the division then you are in the championship game. We have a lot more work to do to realize our goal. Our goal is still out there for us."

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