12:00 PM ET, December 28, 2002
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wali Lundy spent most of his life chasing Avon Cobourne. In their first head-to-head meeting, he finally passed him.
Virginia's Wali Lundy hauls in a 14-yard touchdown pass on Saturday.
Cobourne, who was four years ahead of Lundy at Holy Cross High School in southern New Jersey, ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns for West Virginia.
"Growing up, a lot of people always tried to measure me against him,'' Lundy said. "I never did. I always tried to be my own player.''
Before he could finish talking about his days following Cobourne, Virginia coach Al Groh interrupted his star freshman.
"I don't think this guy needs to measure himself against anybody,'' Groh said. "He's going to be a big-time player.''
Lundy, who came in averaging 53.8 yards rushing and 27.6 receiving, ran for 127 and caught five passes for 76 yards. He scored touchdowns on runs of 4 and 31 yards. He caught a 14-yard TD pass from Marques Hagans and a 48-yard TD pass from Matt Schaub.
He said Cobourne had little to say to him after the game.
"He just said 'Good game,''' Lundy said. "You don't really want to talk to another player after a game like that.''
Cobourne, who said he barely knows Lundy, still praised his performance.
"He played well. I mean, he represented,'' Cobourne said. "He's got the talent, he started as a freshman, so I knew he had it in him. I was hoping he wouldn't unleash it today.''
Schaub, the ACC player of the year, threw for 182 yards and a score and Hagans returned a punt 69 yards for his second touchdown as the Cavaliers (9-5) won their first postseason game since the 1995 Peach Bowl.
Virginia did an excellent job slowing down Cobourne, the Big East's all-time leading rusher, who came into the game averaging 141 yards a game.
He ran for 54 in the first quarter and scored on a 6-yard run but didn't gain a single yard in the second quarter. He finished with 117 yards -- the 28th 100-yard game of his career.
Cobourne added a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but a 2-point conversion attempt by the Mountaineers (9-4) failed, and the TD only cut the score to 41-22 with 7:17 to play.
Cobourne ended his career with 5,039 yards, ninth-best in NCAA Division I-A history. But it was the bowl win he most wanted, especially a convincing victory, to prove that the Mountaineers deserved to be in a bigger bowl. They were passed over for the Gator Bowl despite finishing second in the Big East when officials took Notre Dame instead.
"It sure was a bad way to end a good year,'' said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, who turned the Mountaineers around from a 3-8 record last season.
"There's some players hurting in the locker room, because that's not the way we were playing football at the end of the season.''
The Cavaliers also felt slighted at being in the Tire Bowl. They finished second in their conference and felt they deserved a berth in a New Year's Day game.
The initial disappointment wore off when fans from both schools snapped up the 73,535 tickets -- painting Ericsson Stadium in a sea of blue-and-gold West Virginia fans and orange-and-blue Cavs supporters.
But Virginia, which quietly went about its business all week, felt a second slight by the Mountaineers' confidence, and rumors that West Virginia players had guaranteed a victory.
"I don't think they took us seriously,'' Schaub said. "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but we knew what we had and what we could do. In the end, we were the ones who executed, not them.''
The Mountaineers were uncharacteristically sloppy. They came into the game with the second-best turnover margin in the nation at plus-21, but quarterback Rasheed Marshall was intercepted by Almondo Curry in the third quarter, and Phil Braxton's pass after a pitch from Marshall was intercepted by Darryl Blackstock.
|3rd Down Conversions||11-16||9-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||2-2|
|FG||6:11||TODD JAMES 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 16 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||4:06||WALI LUNDY 14 YD PASS FROM MARQUES HAGANS (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||0:19||AVON COBOURNE 6 YD RUN (TODD JAMES KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 78 yards.
|TD||10:12||MATT SCHAUB 1 YD RUN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||7:53||MARQUES HAGANS 69 YD PUNT RETURN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)||10||21|
|TD||0:19||WALI LUNDY 4 YD RUN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 48 yards.
|TD||9:10||WALI LUNDY 48 YD PASS FROM MATT SCHAUB (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yards.
|FG||6:48||CONNOR HUGHES 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 0 yards.
|TD||0:56||RASHEED MARSHALL 1 YD RUN (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||12:12||CONNOR HUGHES 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||7:17||AVON COBOURNE 1 YD RUN (FAILED 2PT RUSH)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||3:48||WALI LUNDY 31 YD RUN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 49 yards.