6:30 PM ET, September 3, 2005
Scott Stadium, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA
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 on.
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 yards.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-19||3-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-4||0-1|
|TD||13:17||TOM SANTI 2 YD PASS FROM MARQUES HAGANS (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 63 yards.
|FG||10:51||NATE MEYER 42 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||3:50||MARQUES HAGANS 1 YD RUN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 41 yards.
|FG||1:27||CONNOR HUGHES 36 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||12:25||MICHAEL JOHNSON 7 YD RUN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 52 yards.
|FG||7:07||NATE MEYER 31 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 66 yards.
|FG||1:41||NATE MEYER 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 44 yards.
|TD||0:37||C.J. WILSON 55 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (NATE MEYER KICK)||16||24|
|FG||6:12||NATE MEYER 40 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||5:38||CEDRIC PEERMAN 1 YD RUN (CONNOR HUGHES KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 69 yards.