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Nice surprise ends misery
Show of hands: Who saw this coming?
Virginia had not shown the ability to get out of its own way on offense and was suspect on defense. Maryland, meanwhile, had beaten nationally ranked teams twice and appeared poised to take control of the ACC's Atlantic Division.
Final: Virginia 31, Maryland 0.
"I don't think there (were) too many people in this world that thought we could win this game," Virginia linebacker and defensive ringleader Clint Sintim said. "But that was fine with us.
"We knew as a team that we weren't as bad as everybody said we were. We weren't depleted in all areas of the game. I mean, everybody made it seem like we were the worst team in America. That's fine. We just continue to come out here and grind and get better, and we're obviously getting better."
The improvement was most evident on offense. The Cavaliers (2-3 overall, 1-1 ACC) racked up a season-high 427 yards — nearly 180 more than its last-in-the-ACC average.
One week after throwing four interceptions in a dreadful loss at Duke, Cavs quarterback Marc Verica completed 25 of 34 passes for 226 yards and the team's first two touchdown passes of the season.
Cedric Peerman had his heaviest workload of the season, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, and catching seven passes for 23 yards.
"To have Cedric back, for all intents and purposes for the first time this season, made a great difference," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "He's got a rare heart for competition and a rare heart for his teammates."
The Cavaliers scored on five of six possessions during a span that stretched from late in the first quarter to midway through the third. They converted big plays and had long drives as well.
They had a 10-minute advantage in time of possession. They converted 10 of 17 chances on third down and 2 of 2 on fourth down.
"We were able to get into a good rhythm in the game, that first drive, and it just spread throughout the game," said Peerman, unable to go in last week's loss to Duke because of a leg injury. "Marc did a great job directing the offense."
Though Virginia's offense generated much of the buzz Saturday, its defense was stout as well. The Cavaliers dealt Maryland (4-2, 1-1) its first shutout since a 16-0 loss at Scott Stadium in 2004.
Notably, the Cavs bottled up Da'Rell Scott, the ACC's leading rusher, and gave nothing to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, one of the league's most dangerous playmakers.
Scott came in averaging 111 yards per game, but managed just 36 yards on 11 carries. Heyward-Bey averaged 21 yards per catch and 31 yards per rush, on reverses and such. Statistically on Saturday, he didn't even scratch.
Virginia got started when Verica hooked up with wide receiver Kevin Ogletree on a 51-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter — the Cavs' first TD pass of the season.
The Cavaliers' next two touchdowns were the result of more methodical possessions: 12-play drives that covered 75 and 88 yards, respectively.
Verica finished off the first with a nifty 5-yard scoring run, freezing Terps defensive end Dean Muhtadi as he rolled out, then hustling to the right pylon.
On the next drive, the Cavaliers consumed nearly all of the last 4:12 of the second quarter. They converted two third downs and one fourth down — a fourth-and-1 at midfield with less than a minute remaining.
Five plays later, Verica again found Ogletree, this time in the left corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
Virginia didn't let up in the second half. The Terps butchered an onside kick to begin the third period, giving U.Va.the ball at the Maryland 49. Peerman dashed 35 yards to the Maryland 11, setting up Yannick Reyering's 32-yard field goal.
Virginia's Vic Hall caused a Dan Gronkowski fumble that Corey Mosley recovered at the Cavs' 39. Virginia ate up another five-plus minutes on its next touchdown drive, with Peerman going the last 9 yards for a 31-0 lead.
"This is extremely satisfying for me," Sintim said. "I don't know, maybe I'm just high off the moment right now, but this seems like one of the best wins I've had. To be in a situation like this, and play a quality team like Maryland, and nobody thought we were going to win, to be a defender on this team and pitch a shutout says a lot about the character of the guys on this team."
VIRGINIA 31, MARYLAND 0
First Quarter U.Va.—Ogletree 51 pass from Verica (Reyering kick), 2:41.
Second Quarter U.Va.—Verica 5 run (Reyering kick), 10:14. U.Va.—Ogletree 15 pass from Verica (Reyering kick), :11.
Third Quarter U.Va.—FG Reyering 32, 11:34. U.Va.—Peerman 9 run (Reyering kick), 5:21. A—50,727.
|Time of Possession||24:54||35:06|
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICSRUSHING—Maryland, Scott 11-36, Meggett 5-28, Portis 2-9, Turner 3-6. Virginia, Peerman 17-110, Simpson 14-77, Jackson 5-12, Verica 3-4, Ogletree 1-1, Covington 1-(minus 3).
PASSING—Maryland, Turner 20-34-1-223. Virginia, Verica 25-34-0-226.
RECEIVING—Maryland, Tyler 5-56, Jackson 4-24, Gronkowski 3-38, I.Williams 2-31, Smith 2-26, Meggett 2-13, Scott 1-16, Oquendo 1-2, Heyward-Bey 0-17. Virginia, Peerman 7-23, Ogletree 5-100, J.Phillips 3-38, Covington 3-21, Simpson 3-13, Koch 2-19, Devlin 1-6, Inman 1-6.