Sunday, October 31, 2010
Mike London, Virginia get signature win
By Heather Dinich
First-year Virginia coach Mike London had been hearing it all season -- how the Cavaliers would only win three games this year, how the first FBS win came against an Eastern Michigan team that wasn't very good, how the program had lost nine straight conference games …
"On and on and on and on," London said after the game on Saturday, his voice still hoarse from the excitement of the day.
Mike London celebrated as Virginia ended a nine-game losing streak in ACC play by beating Miami.
It all came to a screeching halt on Saturday when Virginia intercepted Miami five times en route to a 24-19 win against the No. 22-ranked Hurricanes. It was the first ACC win for London, who was hired from the FCS ranks to resurrect a program that has had three losing seasons in the past four years.
It was one of several upsets in yet another wild, unpredictable week in the ACC. On Thursday night, NC State knocked off the ACC's top-ranked team, No. 16 Florida State, 28-24. On Saturday, Boston College earned its first conference win by surprising Clemson, 16-10. Duke, which hadn't won since its season opener against Elon, beat Navy on the road, and North Carolina almost lost to William & Mary on homecoming.
The biggest surprise, though, came in Charlottesville, where Virginia earned its first win against a ranked opponent in two years.
"To see those guys play hard, not give up, even when they scored their last touchdown, all those guys collectively as a team, you're overwhelmed with emotion," said London, who fell to his knees after the game. "Because no one wants to throw an interception. No one wants to miss a tackle. These guys all want to win. Sometimes you put a game together where you do better things than the other team. We were in position to make plays, get five turnovers, things like that. This was a signature win for us because it's a ranked team."
Don't tell London he won because Miami didn't have injured starting quarterback Jacory Harris for much of the game.
"Well you know what? I'm missing Joe Torchia, Ras-I Dowling didn't play, Tim Smith, our starting receiver is out," he said. "Football is football. You've got to play the game with who you've got, and at the end of the day hope your score is better than theirs."
Virginia did more than hope. It played defense. Miami was held scoreless in the opening quarter -- with Harris on the field -- and he was hit while throwing an interception. Harris' absence had nothing to do with Miami's defense getting run over, either. Keith Payne ran for two touchdowns and 81 yards, and the Cavaliers didn't allow a sack.
Virginia started the season with a 2-4 record, but has never once quit on London.
"That was the way it was before," London said. "That was then, this is now. I will not allow players to attach their self-worth to their record."
Nor will he allow anyone to lessen the value of this win because Harris was hurt.
"This is a big win for the community and for the fans," said junior corner Chase Minnifield, who had two interceptions. "This win helps us recruit, and it is great to get a win on the national stage. We needed the win and we worked hard for it. One thing no one can say is that we did not work hard this week."
Instead, you can go "on and on and on" about what Virginia finally did do.