Tigers Fall to Cavaliers, 22-17

by - Correspondent -
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.

Tommy Bowden - Real | Windows Media QB Willie Simmons - Real | Windows Media QB Charlie Whitehurst - Real | Windows Media DB Justin Miller - Real | Windows Media LB John Leake - Real | Windows Media
"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 upon." Pressed further if Simmons was still his starter, Bowden again paused before delivering a one-word answer. "Yes." 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 Groh joked. 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 interception. 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. Drive Chart First Quarter 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. Second Quarter 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. Fourth Quarter 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. Box Score
            1 2 3  4 T 
 Clemson    3 7 0  7 17 
 Virginia   0 6 0 16 22 
 Team Statistics 
                CLEMSON VIRGINIA 
 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 
Individual Statistics Rushing CLEMSON Yusef Kelly 17-72, Bernard Rambert 9-59, Tye Hill 3-43, Chad Jasmin 4-10, Derrick Hamilton 1-3, Willie Simmons 6-2. VIRGINIA Alvin Pearman 17-49, Wali Lundy 9-31, Matt Schaub 9-7, Kase Luzar 1-1, Billy McMullen 1-1, - Team 3-MINUS 9. Passing CLEMSON Willie Simmons 15-25-135- 1, Charlie Whitehurst 7-7-92- 0, Tony Elliott 1-1-MINUS 4- 0. VIRGINIA Matt Schaub 23-32-208- 1. Receiving CLEMSON 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. VIRGINIA Wali Lundy 11-78, Billy McMullen 4-43, Michael McGrew 2-33, Alvin Pearman 3-28, Heath Miller 2-21, Jason Snelling 1-5. Attendance: 54,114

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