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College Football: Out of bowl hunt, Cavs eye final hurrah



CHARLOTTESVILLE—For a brief moment, Phillip Sims’ excitement was evident.

The University of Virginia sophomore quarterback had launched a perfectly thrown pass into the arms of Cavaliers wide receiver Darius Jennings in the fourth quarter against North Carolina on Thursday night.

With Jennings’ speed, he likely would’ve scored easily.

The sophomore bobbled the pass, however, and the ball eventually fell to the Scott Stadium turf.

Sims trudged off the field, but he wasn’t visibly disappointed. He and the Cavaliers are resigned to the program’s fifth losing season in the past seven years as their hopes for a second consecutive bowl bid disappeared with the 37–13 loss to the Tar Heels.

“I really didn’t have any thoughts going through my mind at the time,” Sims said of his reaction to the play. “It was kind of unbelievable.”

Now the Cavaliers (4–7, 2–5 Atlantic Coast Conference) turn their attention to the season finale at Virginia Tech. If the Hokies (4–6,

2–4) defeat Boston College today, the Cavaliers will have a chance to end their rivals’ bowl hopes with a victory in Blacksburg.

Virginia coach Mike London told a somber Virginia locker room to treat that game as a bowl contest.

“That’s what it is: one last game to play,” London said. “I know the players will be up to the challenge. It’s a very quiet locker room in there with a lot of disappointments. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and get ready to play one last football game.”

There were plenty of reasons to be disappointed following the setback to North Carolina.

Sophomore running back Kevin Parks was stopped for a 2-yard loss on a momentum-turning fourth-and-goal play from the Tar Heels’ 1-yard line late in the third quarter. North Carolina then went on a 97-yard scoring drive to increase its lead to 27–13.

“It’s 1 yard and you have to [get] into the end zone,” Parks said. “I didn’t do a good job on my part getting in. You have to do anything possible to get in. That’s why I’m kind of hurt right now. You watch that film and learn from it. You learn from your mistakes and fix those mistakes.”

The Cavaliers have several other miscues to learn from.

There was also Jennings’ critical drop on their next possession, quarterback Michael Rocco’s interception that was returned for a touchdown in the second quarter and the Cavaliers’ secondary play, which allowed North Carolina’s Quinshad Davis to set UNC single-game freshman records for receptions (16) and receiving yards (178).

“I love the team, so it’s disappointing,” Virginia senior linebacker LaRoy Reynolds said of seeing his final home game end in such fashion. “It hurts, honestly.”

Reynolds said the Cavaliers would draw some satisfaction from their season if they were able to end Virginia Tech’s bowl hopes. But Virginia hasn’t defeated the Hokies since 2003.

Still, Sims said that despite the Cavaliers’ not having a postseason to play for, the adrenaline rush of facing a rival should make next Saturday’s contest easy to get up for.

“It’s Tech. It gets no bigger than that,” Sims said. “For U.Va. and Tech you need no picking up for that. If you can’t get ready for Tech, you need to be somewhere else.”

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