CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans
threw one touchdown pass, ran for another score and, with one
crucial play, justified Al Groh's confidence in him.
"He made some plays that not too many quarterbacks can make
besides Marques," the Virginia coach said after the No. 25
Cavaliers beat Western Michigan 31-19 Saturday night.
Chief among them was a 12-yard scramble on third-and-8 from the
Virginia 44 in the final quarter. The play kept alive a drive than
ended with Cedric Peerman's 1-yard touchdown run with 5:38 left,
finally allowing the Cavaliers to put away the Broncos.
Otherwise, the Cavaliers -- and Hagans -- were mistake-prone,
turning the ball over three times, fumbling three other times and
allowing Broncos backup quarterback Robbie Haas to complete 33 of
49 passes for 271 yards and keep his team close.
Still, the Cavaliers will take the result.
"It's stupid to nit pick wins," defensive end Brennan Schmidt
said. "I'm sure a lot of people will say we should have blown
these guys out, but they were resilient and made us turn the ball
over, which made things a lot more interesting."
The Cavaliers (1-0) were frustrated by the Broncos short passing
game, especially wideout Greg Jennings, who caught 16 passes for
156 yards. Virginia led only 24-19 and hadn't scored since early in
the second quarter when it got the stop it needed.
On fourth-and 4 from the Virginia 31, Tony Franklin and Jermaine
Dias tackled tight end Brandon Ledbetter 3 yards short of a first
down with 11 minutes remaining.
Twelve plays and 69 yards later, Peerman gave Virginia some
breathing room, and moved himself into the tailback rotation after
beginning the game as the position's fourth alternative.
"We're kind of looking at some different options there and
finally worked ourselves down to Cedric," Groh said. "We got more
of what we wanted from him than we did from anybody else. ... He
helped his circumstance a lot."
Virginia lost starting tailback Wali Lundy on its second
offensive series when he pulled up with a sprained ankle at the end
of a 28-yard run. Two running backs -- Michael Johnson and Jason
Snelling -- took turns trying to fill in, but both fumbled.
That led Groh to turn to Peerman, who also had 104 yards on
three kickoff returns. He rushed 16 times for 69 yards, including
10 carries on the game-sealing drive.
Before the scoring drive, Virginia's possessions in the half had
ended on a fourth-and-2 play that went for a yard, a lost fumble
and a missed 37-yard field goal.
Western Michigan (0-1), playing its first game under coach Bill
Cubit, looked nothing like a team on a 10-game losing streak, even
though its starting quarterback sat the game out. Ryan Cubit, the
coach's son, has a leg fracture.
They didn't miss him as Haas used Jennings and running back Mark
Bonds to keep Virginia frustrated. Bonds bulled his way to 199
yards on 30 carries.
"Here's a kid that for three years has not seen the field and
he goes out and plays like that," Cubit said of Haas, a senior.
"I think it's a credit to him."
The Cavaliers also played without linebacker Ahmad Brooks, a
second-team All-American and their top tackler the last two
seasons, who is still recovering from offseason surgery to correct
a degenerative bone problem in his right knee.
Even so, Virginia seemed on its way to an expected blowout early
The Cavaliers' first offensive play was a 57-yard pass to Ottowa
Anderson, who was making his return after missing last season for
academic problems. Three plays later, Hagans rolled to his left and
threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Santi.
After Kwakou Robinson recovered a fumble by Haas at the Broncos
41 later in the quarter, Hagans hit Deyon Williams for 40 yards,
then ran it in himself on the next play. Michael Johnson's 7-yard
scoring run in the second quarter made it 24-3.
Hagans, who was 17-for-25 for 252 yards, also threw two
interceptions, the latter returned 55 yards for a touchdown by C.J.
Wilson 37 seconds before halftime.
Earlier, Nate Meyer had kicked field goals on 42, 31 and 32
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Cedric Peerman took it in from the one to put the Cavs up 31-19 with 5:38 left and finally give the Virginia some breathing room.
Gameball goes to... Robbie Haas. Filling in for injured starter Ryan Cubit, Haas went 33 of 49 for 271 yards to keep the Broncos in the game.
Stat of the game... 3, 4: Western Michigan turned the ball over three times and failed on all four of its conversion attempts on fourth down.