Another tough, emotional week for Virginia football ended on a high note here Saturday afternoon in Scott Stadium as the Cavaliers claimed their second ACC win this season beating Duke 30-27.
And, according to coach Tony Elliott, they did it right.
Monday marked one year since the shooting on Grounds that claimed the lives of D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr., and Devin Chandler.
The Cavaliers were also dealing with the injury to running back Perris Jones, who was injured in the Louisville game, and required spinal surgery.
Elliott made a trip to see Jones on Tuesday, now recovering in a rehabilitation facility.
An emotional Elliott needed a few pauses in addressing the media room after the win.
The gathered media responded.
Darn those November allergies.
Elliott’s remarks put the Virginia win in appropriate context.
“The ceremonies were Monday and Monday night, and we’re right back to work on Tuesday morning,” Elliott said. “And I can tell you, and I’ve been around a lot of practice fields, and I hadn’t felt what I felt on Tuesday with these guys, considering what they went through the day before, and then they brought it back Wednesday. And so, I think that they understand that this week and every week going forward, you’re playing for something bigger than ourselves.”
Sitting high above the playing surface, I seldom make the long, weaving walk to Bryant Hall and the postgame interviews.
There’s really no need as a transcript of the presser is readily available.
And it’s a long walk.
But after Saturday’s game I felt the need to make the trek through the departing crowd, onto the field and into the media interview room.
And I’m glad I did.
Typically, I had spent the last three-plus hours criticizing the officials, second-guessing the Virginia play-calling, even complaining about the new lighting system.
I was even frustrated about the buffet bar being empty of cookies.
Yep, I needed a reality adjustment.
Tony Elliott provided it.
Coach Elliott started by acknowledging the parents of the three lost players.
“I just want you to know that we continue to lift you up in our prayers, and the legacy of your sons are never going to die as long as I’m here at UVA. I believe that to be the case going forward, even if I’m not here in the future,” said a subdued Elliott.
A gut check for this writer for certain.
The win over Duke suddenly somehow lost its luster.
My thoughts immediately turned to my two children, who, like Lavel, D’Sean and Devin, are in the prime of their lives.
I sent them both texts from the media room.
It’s been a year since the tragic deaths, and I just can’t imagine the constant pain the parents are going through.
Time sometimes just doesn’t help.
For most of us, it’s been one year, but for the families, it must feel like yesterday, over and over again.
For Elliott, he knows the reality of his profession as well.
Virginia is 3-8 on the year, and 6-15 with one game remaining in Elliott’s second year in Charlottesville.
It was Elliott’s first ACC home win.
Coaches get paid to win. That’s the bottom line.
Being in the media room, watching Elliott struggle with emotions, and being thisclose to the Virginia team I got it. I felt it.
These are young kids who have dealt with an unimaginable tragedy.
All season, I’ve read, I’ve heard the same thing. “Every time this team takes the field is a victory.”
Today I understand why.
The scoreboard said: Virginia 30 Duke 27.
The postgame press conference told the real story.