Tigers Fall to Cavaliers, 22-17
Matt Schaub's 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller with 4:08 to go provided the winning margin.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - When the 2002 Clemson football schedule was announced
some months ago, astute observers noted Saturday's game in Charlottesville,
Va. had "trap" written all over it.
They proved to be correct.
Playing on the road after an emotional loss to Florida State on national
television nine days earlier, Clemson dropped an important 22-17 decision
Saturday afternoon at Virginia. The Tigers, flat and lethargic all day,
committed three turnovers - two of which led to critical fourth-quarter
scores for the Cavaliers.
It was Virginia's fifth consecutive win and Clemson's second straight loss.
"Last week against Florida State we made some big plays," Clemson head coach
Tommy Bowden said. "We didn't make any of those today, but time after time
Virginia did. Their style of defensive play - that soft, soft zone - is
deceiving. They let you go down the field and wait for you to make mistakes.
"That's what we did in the second half."
Bowden may have unwillingly created a quarterback controversy by inserting
redshirt freshman Charlie Whitehurst in the game with less than 2:00 to go
and Clemson (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailing 22-10.
Bowden made the move after starter Willie Simmons (15-of-25, 135 yards)
committed turnovers on consecutive offensive plays deep in his own territory.
The first, an interception by Virginia's Rich Bedesem on a ball tipped at the
line of scrimmage, led to Matt Schaub's 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end
Heath Miller with 4:08 to go.
The score gave the Cavaliers a 22-10 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Simmons was forced to scramble and fumbled as he
was being sacked. Almondo Curry recovered for Virginia (5-2, 3-1 ACC), and
although the Cavs failed to score, they were able to run the clock down to
1:49 by the time Tom Hagan's short punt pinned the Tigers back at their own
eight yard line.
Whitehurst replaced Simmons at that point and proceeded to complete seven
consecutive passes, directing Clemson 92 yards in just 1:17. His 10-yard
scoring pass to J.J. McKelvey pulled the Tigers within 22-17 with 1:31 to go
and briefly raised the hopes of the small contingent of Clemson fans present
at Scott Stadium.
But the Cavs snuffed out those hopes by recovering Wynn Kopp's onside kick
attempt at the Tigers' 45. Clemson, out of timeouts, could do nothing but
watch helplessly as Schaub took a knee three times to run out the clock.
Afterwards, asked if there was a quarterback controversy Bowden paused before
carefully choosing his words.
"I'm not sure," he said. "We've always felt good about Charlie Whitehurst,
and it's an awful good comfort zone to know Charlie can go in there and
perform under those circumstances. I don't think he's thrown an incomplete
pass yet this year.
"(Simmons) turnovers there at the end, carrying the ball loose, that happened
twice last week (against Florida State) and is sure to be quick to be frowned
Pressed further if Simmons was still his starter, Bowden again paused before
delivering a one-word answer.
Clemson held a 10-6 lead until the opening moments of the fourth quarter, a
lead made possible by a diving Brian Mance interception at the Virginia
32-yard line late in the first half.
Freshman running back Tye Hill turned the pickoff into points on the next
play, running a sweep to his right and darting untouched into the endzone for
a 32-yard touchdown.
But Virginia took the lead for good with less than a minute gone by in the
fourth quarter when wide receiver Billy McMullen took a reverse handoff on
fourth-and-goal from the one and stumbled into the end zone for the score.
"I told the team in the locker room that we should call the Heisman Trophy
people and have them change the pose to Billy stumbling," Virginia head coach
Stumbling or not, the score made it 13-10 Cavs and signaled the beginning of
the end for Clemson.
"This is our kind of game," said Groh. "Down 10-6 at the half, fight back,
get a lead and hang on. There is a big separation at this point of the season
between 4-3 and 5-2. This was a very significant one. We have five, and now
we have a chance to get more."
Clemson's first half effort was no better, at least until Mance's
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and drove from their own five all the way
to the Virginia two yard line. But Simmons misfired on a third down pass into
the end zone, and Clemson had to settle for Aaron Hunt's 42-yard field goal
and a 3-0 lead.
Simmons, after starting the game by hitting 8 of his first 12 passes for 66
yards, completed just 1-of-5 in the second quarter for 11 yards, often
missing open receivers or making difficult throws into traffic. But the
Tigers made up for the lack of production in the passing game by rushing for
174 yards in the half.
Clemson was better defensively, limiting the Cavaliers to just 89 total yards
and two field goals by Kurt Smith (42, 28). Schaub threw for only 60 yards
(9-of-13) and the interception by Mance.
Clemson 3, UVa. 0
Scoring Drive: 19 plays, 93 yards in 6:57.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 19-yard field goal at 8:03.
Key Play: Simmons' 10-yard pass to Youngblood to the UVa. 28 on third-and-7.
Clemson 3, UVa. 3
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 33 yards in 3:04.
Scoring Play: Smith's 42-yard field goal at 14:21.
Key Play: Schaub's 12-yard pass to McGrew to the CU 30 on second-and-11.
UVa. 6, Clemson 3
Scoring Drive: 4 plays, 18 yards in 1:02.
Scoring Play: Smith's 28-yard field goal at 5:18.
Key Play: Pass interference penalty on Clemson gives UVa. ball at Tiger 15.
Clemson 10, UVa. 6
Scoring Drive: 1 play, 32 yards in :08.
Scoring Play: Hill's 32-yard run at 1:00.
Key Play: Scoring play.
UVa. 13, Clemson 10
Scoring Drive: 7 plays, 61 yards in 2:54.
Scoring Play: McMullen's 1-yard reverse run at 14:16.
Key Play: Pass interference penalty on CU's Kevin Johnson that gives UVa.
ball at CU 21.
UVa. 16, Clemson 10
Scoring Drive: 17 plays, 85 yards in 6:03.
Scoring Play: Smith's 21-yard field goal at 5:53.
Key Play: Schaub's 18-yard pass to Pearman to the CU 17 on third-and-8.
UVa. 22, Clemson 10
Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 17 yards in 1:29.
Scoring Play: Schaub's 15-yard pass to Miller at 4:08.
Key Play: Scoring play.
UVa. 22, Clemson 17
Scoring Drive: 7 plays, 92 yards in 1:17.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst's 10-yard pass to McKelvey at 1:31.
Key Play: Whitehurst's 23-yard pass to Hamilton to the UVa. 30.
1 2 3 4 T
Clemson 3 7 0 7 17
Virginia 0 6 0 16 22
First downs 25 20
Rushed-yards 40-189 40-80
Passing yards 223 208
Sacked-yards lost 2-9 2-18
Return yards 15 34
Passes 23-33-1 23-32-1
Punts 6-31 4-38.8
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-49 1-5
Time of poss 27:38 32:22
Yusef Kelly 17-72, Bernard Rambert 9-59, Tye Hill 3-43, Chad Jasmin 4-10, Derrick Hamilton 1-3, Willie Simmons 6-2.
Alvin Pearman 17-49, Wali Lundy 9-31, Matt Schaub 9-7, Kase Luzar 1-1, Billy McMullen 1-1, - Team 3-MINUS 9.
Willie Simmons 15-25-135- 1, Charlie Whitehurst 7-7-92- 0, Tony Elliott 1-1-MINUS 4- 0.
Matt Schaub 23-32-208- 1.
Derrick Hamilton 8-81, Jackie Robinson 2-45, Kevin Youngblood 5-42, Yusef Kelly 3-26,
J.J. Mckelvey 2-19, Airese Currie 2-14, Willie Simmons 1-MINUS 4.
Wali Lundy 11-78, Billy McMullen 4-43, Michael McGrew 2-33, Alvin Pearman 3-28, Heath Miller 2-21, Jason Snelling 1-5.