Cavaliers Pounce On Pitt To Win Big
Sep 29, 2007
Jameel Sewell started hot and so did the offense as UVa took a 27-0 lead in the first quarter.
"I was pleased with our play tonight. The team continues to move forward in many different areas, especially tonight. … We took advantage of some opportunities early in the game to go out and get a lead," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "Once we had that lead, it made it a lot easier to play from in front than from behind."
The early lead came courtesy of a total team effort. The special teams and defense set up excellent field position with some strong play and Virginia's offense took full advantage. The Hoos exploded in the first quarter for 27 points and eventually put forth the best performance of Mike Groh's tenure as offensive coordinator. The last time the Hoos scored more than 30 points in a game was at Duke last season when they won 37-0, but the defense contributed a touchdown to that effort.
Saturday night, the offense posted all but one of the touchdowns after starting the game red hot. UVa scored on its first five possessions, converting all four of its chances in the dominant first quarter that produced a 27-0 Virginia lead. That's the most points in a quarter scored by the Cavs since they tallied 30 in the third quarter of a 47-26 win at N.C. State in 1999. The scoring drives Saturday covered 39, 51, 26, and 21 yards thanks to the defense (two forced three-and-outs) and special teams (forced fumble, two good punt returns).
"Getting out to a lead is a big deal," tight end Tom Santi said. "When we are able to get our there and get on the board early, it makes a huge difference and sets a tone for the whole game."
Several Hoos contributed to the offense's productive opening quarter. Jameel Sewell delivered strikes on all seven of his pass attempts, including three touchdown tosses to Jonathan Stupar, Rashawn Jackson, and Santi. Cedric Peerman, of course, was heavily involved as well. He posted 22 yards rushing, 31 yards receiving, and a touchdown in the opening quarter.
Peerman was far from done. He added another rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter and finished with 87 yards rushing and 44 yards receiving, leading the team in both categories. Of course, the always humble Peerman brushed off his personal stats and complimented the team's performance.
"It was a good overall effort for us," Peerman said. "We were able to put some quick drives together and we got the ball in their territory a lot, so we were able to capitalize on that. Special teams did a great job a couple of times getting us the field position we needed to make those short drives possible. So it was just an overall team effort."
Jon Copper led the team with 8 tackles.
But his total numbers do not do his start justice. He completed his first 9 pass attempts and flashed impressive accuracy on a number of different styles of passes. It is the first time Sewell has thrown for three touchdowns in a single game and the only the second time in his career with multiple TD passes (Maryland last season was the first). Groh said it was one of his best performances to date.
"This [game] was very positive. He was pretty sharp there with some of those throws in the beginning - real sharp, as sharp as he needed to be to get our team off to a fast start," Groh said.
All in all, the 30-point win is clearly Virginia's best performance of the season. In addition to the offensive outburst, the defense allowed just 288 total yards and came up with three sacks. Leading the way statistically were a pair of linebackers as Jon Copper and Clint Sintim combined for 15 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss. On special teams, Vic Hall keyed a good night with the exception of one muffed punt. In the end, Hall averaged 21.5 yards per punt return and scored a late touchdown on a field goal fake.
That all helped deliver a little payback to the Panthers, who delivered a 38-13 beating to UVa in last season's opening game.
"We definitely had a little chip on our shoulder from the embarrassment that we got from them when we up there last year," Stupar said. "All week, this has been a real big game for us - that's how we went into this week. We were just focused all week and we came out and kind of proved ourselves."
Note: Due to server problems, this game story does not have live pictures. The Sabre will update the story with photos from the Pitt game as soon as possible.
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