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Nov. 09, 2001

by Trent Packer

Bad luck continued to haunt the Cavaliers last weekend, as they dropped their fifth consecutive game, a 34-30 nail biter to Wake Forest. Virginia falls to 3-6 overall, 2-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference with the loss.

“Both teams played real hard,” head coach Al Groh said following the game. “Both teams made a lot of plays [and] both teams showed the will to fight and come back. In the long run, they had one more play in them than we did. We had our chance to win the game and we couldn’t come up with a play. That creates a very disappointing loss for us.”

UVa led 16-13 heading into the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers scored just 13 seconds into the final stanza on a Bryson Spinner pass to Michael McGrew, to stretch their lead to 10 points. Wake Forest answered less than two minutes later, however, when tailback Nick Burney ran 19 yards to trim Virginia’s lead back to three, 23-20. UVa punted on its next possession, and Fabian Davis returned the kick for a touchdown, giving the Demon Deacons their first lead (27-23) since the opening minutes of the game.

An eight-yard touchdown pass from Spinner to Alvin Pearman gave the Cavaliers a 30-27 lead with 3:03 remaining in the game. Pearman, who first appeared to be stopped near the five yard line, denied would-be tacklers and fell across the plane of the end zone for the go-ahead score.

Wake Forest responded on the ensuing possession. Facing third-and-seven from the Wake 36 yard line, James MacPherson found a streaking Jason Anderson, who outran the Virginia secondary and took the ball 64 yards for the game winner.

“I’ve seen that ball get intercepted against that coverage and the game is over,” Groh said. “That’s what’s particularly disappointing about it. We could have played the coverage better. Had we, perhaps the outcome would have been different.”

Wide receiver Billy McMullen continued his run at the Virginia single-season touchdown receptions mark by hauling in his 10th TD of the season. With three games remaining, the junior is three touchdowns shy of Herman Moore’s 13-touchdown mark. McMullen currently leads the ACC in receptions per game (7.00), receiving yards per game (87.9) and receiving touchdowns.

Last Saturday’s game marked the return of tailback Antwoine Womack to the field. Womack injured himself in the first quarter of the Cavaliers’ first game of the season. He entered the game in the fourth quarter and promptly caught a six-yard pass from Spinner. The senior spent a total of five plays on the field.

“We used him for pass protection,” Groh said. “He’s probably the best pass-protecting back on the team. [Alvin] Pearman had taken quite a few hits in the game. Foreman was not available today, so we put Antoine in for pass protection purposes.”

This week Virginia faces a Georgia Tech team that is coming off a 28-21 victory over North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets gained 424 yards of total offense, including 237 yards rushing, against the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech has averaged 166.8 yards of rushing offense this season, while Virginia has surrendered 217.1 yards per game on the ground.The Yellow Jackets (6-2 overall, 3-2 in the ACC) will play three of their final four games on the road, starting with today’s game against the Cavaliers. Virginia has won its last four home contests against the Yellow Jackets.

“Virginia had a very tough game against Wake Forest, but they are getting some people back healthy, including Antwoine Womack, who is an outstanding back,” Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary said. “It’s a place where we’ve struggled, so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

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