Cavs Swat Yellow Jackets
Sep 22, 2007
Jeffrey Fitzgerald intercepted a deflected pass and ran it back for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The closely contested win improved UVa to 3-0 in the ACC's Coastal Division with victories against Duke, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks.
"Well, after three of those in a row, I think we can see what type of team we're fashioning. As I said last week, there's a lot of character and a lot of tough kids on this team," Cavalier coach Al Groh said. "If we're successful, we're going to have a lot of games of that nature. We've had three in a row, and what they've shown in those three games is that when the game is on the line, they won't crack. They trust in each other and they believe in each other. The players stepped up and made a lot of plays."
For the third straight game, the Hoos made enough plays to take a double-digit lead in the first half - they led 21-7 in this one after the first quarter. After two weeks of holding off rallies from Coastal Division foes, however, Virginia saw a lead vanish in the second half against Georgia Tech and it needed to pull a comeback of its own out of its collective helmet.
Trailing 23-21 early in the fourth quarter, the offense stalled out again and the Cavs punted from their own 31-yard line. The game looked like it would continue to be a field position slugfest and Tech, of course, had the "we're winning" ace up its sleeve. Until Aaron Clark and Trey Womack helped create a little come-from-behind magic that is.
Ryan Weigand's 43-yard punt sailed harmlessly toward Andrew Smith and he seemed poised to calmly put away another catch - after all, he piled up 64 return yards on 6 punt returns in the game. Suddenly, however, the ball bounced off his shoulder pads and Clark leveled him on a dead run. Womack quickly dove on the ball and UVa had great field position at the GT 26. That was the Yellow Jackets' second turnover of the game - Jeffrey Fitzgerald intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown in the first quarter, which snapped a string of nearly 200 turnover-free minutes (194 minutes, 40 seconds) for Tech.
Jameel Sewell passed for 177 yards and 1 touchdown; he also added a rushing TD.
"Before the snap, I saw the two safeties coming to blitz," Sewell said. "I saw he had a lot of field to work with, so I stepped up and tried to give him a catchable ball. He caught the ball and broke a tackle. He made a play for us."
"Anytime you turn [the ball] over to a touchdown, it hurts," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "It wasn't just a turnover, it was a turnover for a touchdown. You hope you go a whole season without turning it over, but odds are you won't. So, you get your guys to understand overcoming."
The Yellow Jackets were unable to overcome the decisive score (a late drive reached inside the Hoos' 20-yard line, but a false start penalty and a Chris Long sack stopped the threat), but Gailey's point certainly seems to apply to his opponent.
The Cavaliers have understood the need to overcome since the opening loss in Wyoming. And for the third straight week, that's become their calling card. Keep improving, keep battling, and keep trying to win that week's game. They know they probably aren't getting bonus points for aesthetics, but they sure are chalking up extra credit with resiliency and determination.
Cedric Peerman piled up 138 yards rushing this week.
Then Wyoming. The offense sputtered. Peerman didn't get many touches - 7 carries, 18 yards. He never wavered. The Cavs insisted they would get better.
And Peerman has been outstanding ever since, recording his third straight 100+-yard game against Georgia Tech (the first Hoo to do that since Alvin Pearman in 2004). Saturday's runs again sparked the team and the crowd. Grind, battle, break tackles. Fight for more yards. Don't go down. Keep moving. 28 carries, 138 yards, and 1 touchdown later, the Cavaliers left victorious.
"Cedric was wonderful again. As you can clearly see, he's the right back for this team," Groh said. "He fits the personality of this program and of this team. There are a lot of great running backs in the country who we admire, but this kid is the right back for our team. We certainly admire him to a great level, and he epitomizes the toughness and the heart and the character of all of his teammates."
Note: Georgia Tech redshirt fresman Correy Earls
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