UVA escapes Tribe: Cavs fight off William and Mary upset bid, win 35-29
The Tribe (1-1) nearly rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit before a last-ditch drive stalled at the Virginia 30.
The ‘Hoos (1-2) trailed by 10 in the second quarter and went scoreless for the final 25:00 after getting a pair of big-play scores that had seemed to put them in control.
William and Mary got on the board first, marching down the field in five plays on their opening possession, scoring on a 41-yard pass from Steve Cluley to DeVonte Dedmon to go up 7-0 two minutes into the game.
Virginia answered with a 16-play, 84-yard march that took 9:13 off the game clock, and finished with a 3-yard TD pass from Matt Johns to Connor Wingo-Reeves that tied the score at 7-7 with 3:44 left in the first.
A 37-yard pass from Cluley to Andrew Caskin on the first play of the second quarter, on fourth down, made it 14-7 William and Mary.
W&M converted a UVA turnover, the first of Johns’ two first-half interceptions, into a 43-yard Nick Dorka field goal and a 17-7 lead.
A Jordan Ellis 39-yard TD run, on his first career carry, brought Virginia to within 17-14 with 11:23 left in the first half.
Another Dorka field goal, from 21 yards, gave the Tribe a 20-14 lead with 5:07 left.
Johns connected with Canaan Severin on a 26-yard TD pass play with 1:46 left in the first to give UVA the 21-20 lead at the break.
William and Mary recovered an onside kick to open the second half, but the Virginia defense held, and the Cavs scored two plays later on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Johns to Taquan Mizzell on a screen that made it 28-20 Virginia two and a half minutes into the second half.
Maurice Canady returned a W&M punt 74 yards after another three-and-out to push the lead to 35-20 with 10:00 left in the third quarter.
After another defensive stop, Virginia missed on two chances to extend the lead when Ian Frye missed on back-to-back field-goal attempts, from 46 yards, then 41 yards, the second attempt coming after William and Mary was assessed a penalty for running into the kicker.
William and Mary had a golden opportunity of its own slip through its fingers in the fourth quarter, driving to the UVA 1. After a stop on third down, the Tribe called timeout and tried a reverse pass from wideout Christian Reeves to Cluley that fell incomplete.
The William and Mary defense forced a Virginia punt from the 1 and blocked the Nicholas Conte boot out of the back of the end zone for a safety that cut the UVA lead to 35-22 with 8:57 left.
A Cluley-to-Dedmon 4-yard TD pass with 5:22 left made it 35-29, and the UVA offense, needing a first down or two to bleed the clock, instead produced a quick three-and-out, giving the Tribe the ball back at their own 45 with 3:01 left.
A first down moved the ball into UVA territory, and a defensive holding call on Canady on a fourth-down pass moved the Tribe to the Virginia 33.
The Cavs held for another fourth down at their own 30, and a Cluley pass toward the end zone fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.
Cluley finished 23-for-36 passing for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Mikal Abdul-Saboor put up 100 yards on the ground on 22 carries as William and Mary gained 145 yards on 39 rushes on the day.
Johns was 17-of-23 passing for 263 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, the second coming on an end-of-the-first-half Hail Mary pass.
Virginia ran for 110 yards on 29 carries.
– Story by Chris Graham