One night in Charlottesville: 2004 Miami game was turning point for UVA football

uva football10th-ranked UVA was hosting No. 18 Miami on a Saturday night in Scott Stadium.

This would have been back in 2004, forever ago. Facebook was a year old; there was no Twitter, no YouTube, no Instagram, none of that, is how long ago.

But you already knew that, when I told you about Virginia being ranked in the Top 10.

The ‘Hoos were 7-1, 4-1 in the ACC, and was tied atop the ACC standings with Virginia Tech.

And that team was load-d-d-d-ed. Marques Hagans, now a UVA assistant, would go on to a brief stint in the NFL at wide receiver, but he was a dual-threat QB this particular November night, a Bryce Perkins 1.0, as it were.

Hagans would throw a TD pass that night to a guy named Heath Miller who you may have heard of.

Other future NFL players on the Virginia sidelines included Chris Long,  Ahmad Brooks, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Elton Brown, Chris Canty, Alvin Pearman, Jason Snelling, Wali Lundy, Tom Santi, Kai Parham, Clint Sintim, Darryl Blackstock, Patrick Estes, Ian Yates-Cunningham, Jonathan Stupar, and I’m sure I’m leaving somebody out, and that you’ll send me an email and let me know.

That’s a lot of guys, is the point.

Miami had a fair share on the field that night: Frank Gore, for instance. Devin Hester had an interception.

Roscoe Parrish would return a punt for a TD in the fourth quarter to put the ‘Canes up 10, 24-14. A Lundy 3-yard TD run with 3:22 to go would get Virginia back to within a field goal, 24-21, and it was then up to the ‘Hoos to get a stop on defense.

The play of the game was third-and-5 for Miami at its own 35. Brock Berlin, under pressure, connected with Talib Humphrey in the flat short of the first down, but Humphrey got past Brooks and scampered 34 yards into Virginia territory.

UM ran on its next three plays, forcing Virginia to burn its remaining timeouts, then set up for a 42-yard field-goal try with 58 seconds left, facing a fourth-and-4.

The kick by Jon Peattie was way, way short, but Miami coach Larry Coker – remember him? – had signaled for a timeout with two seconds left on the play clock.

Coker gave the kick a second thought, sent the offense back on the field, and Berlin connected with Parrish in the corner of the end zone.

Ballgame.

Pearman had run for 106 yards and a touchdown. Lundy had 30 yards as the backup at tailback.

Miller had a touchdown reception in the second quarter, down into the west end zone, right in front of me. I was in the stands that night, third row from the bricks. Miller practically fell into our laps after hauling in the pass.

Since that kickoff that night in Charlottesville, Virginia has compiled a record of 63-93, with just three winning seasons in the 12 full seasons since.

For sake of comparison, UVA had posted a record of 99-57 with just one losing season in the 12 years prior.

We didn’t know that then, of course.

It was a tough loss, but we left the stadium that night assuming that there would be more big games to come.

We were wrong.

Column by Chris Graham

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