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‘Hungry’ Wolfpack feast on Cavaliers
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
CHARLOTTESVILLE—University of Virginia football players talked all last week about avoiding a letdown.
The Cavaliers were coming off an upset victory over Georgia Tech heading into their Atlantic Coast Conference home game against N.C. State.
They said their memories of past losses following big victories were enough to keep them focused on the injury-plagued Wolfpack.
But after true freshman quarterback David Watford’s pass bounced out of the arms of wide receiver Tim Smith and into the mitts of N.C. State cornerback David Amerson yesterday, another Virginia letdown was complete.
Amerson returned his second interception of the game (eighth of the season) 12 yards for a touchdown with 6:08 remaining, sealing Virginia’s 28–14 defeat in front of 46,030 at Scott Stadium.
“They played hungry. They played inspired,” Cavaliers coach Mike London said of the Wolfpack. “We didn’t play well enough, hungry enough, inspired enough to affect the game as it was played out.”
The Cavaliers’ passing attack was under the most scrutiny following the loss.
Watford and sophomore starter Michael Rocco combined to complete 11 of 35 passes for 125 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
All of the interceptions belonged to Watford, who tossed a second-quarter pick on the possession after Rocco directed a 14-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that ended in a 6-yard scoring pass to running back Clifton Richardson.
Rocco said it was difficult rediscovering his rhythm after he was replaced by Watford, but he’s not sure if that’s because he was removed.
“We’ve done it most every game, but it’s not easy to come out and go back in like that,” Rocco said. “But it’s our job as a quarterback, and it’s the situation we’ve been given. We’ve got to make do with what we have.”
The Cavaliers (4–3, 1–2 ACC) thought they had a running game to rely on entering yesterday’s game, but the Wolfpack (4–3, 1–2) held them to 124 rushing yards on 33 carries, an average of 3.8 yards per attempt.
Virginia amassed 272 rushing yards against Georgia Tech.
“I think the difference was that we stayed in our gaps,” N.C. State head coach Tom O’Brien said. “A lot of their stuff last week came at the perimeter, and that was one thing we weren’t going to let them do. If they gashed us, it was going to be inside. They weren’t going to run to the boundary like they did a week ago. I mean, they probably got 175 yards outside the tight-end box last week.”
The Cavaliers went ahead 7–0 on Rocco’s pass to Richardson with 7:30 left in the second quarter.
N.C. State responded with a 10-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with quarterback Mike Glennon’s 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Tony Creecy.
Watford was inserted on Virginia’s next possession. On his second play he was intercepted by Amerson, who was able to corral the ball just before it hit the ground.
Glennon fired a 33-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Bryan Underwood on the next play.
The Cavaliers trailed 14–7 at halftime. The third quarter was a defensive struggle until each team came through with a big passing play.
N.C. State increased its lead to 21–7 on Underwood’s 79-yard reception on third-and-12.
Underwood appeared to be tackled by Virginia reserve cornerback Dom Joseph, but his knee never hit the ground and he tiptoed down the right sideline for the score with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
Seven seconds later, Watford threw a 60-yard bomb to Smith for a score to cut the Wolfpack’s lead to 21–14.
“I knew Tim was one-on-one with the corner, so he just took the corner outside and gave him the move inside,” Watford said. “I just tried to lay it out for him, so he could run underneath it.”
It turned out to be one of few bright spots for Watford.
He couldn’t help the Cavaliers put more points on the board after senior safety Corey Mosley intercepted a Glennon pass to give Virginia possession at the N.C. State 40-yard line with 12 minutes left in the game.
Four plays later, on fourth-and-3, Watford’s pass to running back Perry Jones fell incomplete.
After an N.C. State punt, Virginia took over at its own 4-yard line trailing 21–14 with 6:19 left.
But Amerson hauled in Smith’s bobble and leaped into the end zone, sending many Virginia fans scurrying out of the stadium.
The Cavaliers have a short turnaround as they prepare to visit Miami Thursday night.
NC State 0 14 7 7 — 28
Virginia 0 7 7 0 — 14
UVa—Richardson 6 pass from Rocco (Randolph kick), 10:37.
NCSt—Creecy 5 pass from Glennon (Sade kick), 5:20.
NCSt—B.Underwood 33 pass from Glennon (Sade kick), 4:27.
NCSt—B.Underwood 79 pass from Glennon (Sade kick), 2:26.
UVa—Ti.Smith 60 pass from Watford (Randolph kick), 2:19.
NCSt—Amerson 12 interception return (Sade kick), 6:08.
First downs 14 12
Rushes-yards 38-114 33-124
Passing 231 125
Comp-Att-Int 20-36-2 11-35-3
Return Yards 29 10
Punts-Avg. 9-34.3 8-37.4
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 3-30 4-30
Time of Possession 32:13 27:47
RUSHING—NC State, Washington 25-82, Creecy 9-28, Glennon 1-11, Team 2-(minus 2), Graham 1-(minus 5). Virginia, P.Jones 15-62,Richardson 5-19, Parks 7-18, Rocco 2-12, Watford 3-12, Jennings 1-1.
PASSING—NC State, Glennon 20-36-2-231. Virginia, Rocco 7-19-0-36, Watford 4-16-3-89.
RECEIVING—NC State, Creecy 7-42, J.Smith 4-41, B.Underwood 3-125, Graham 2-8, Howard 2-3, Payton 1-6, Washington 1-6. Virginia, Burd 3-44,Ti.Smith 2-66, Parks 2-9, Richardson 1-6, Jennings 1-1, Milien 1-0,D.Terrell 1-(minus 1).
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526