By Thomas Livingston
The Virginia football team will enter their bye week on a six game losing streak, as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons beat the Cavaliers 16-10 on Saturday afternoon.
Plagued by turnovers, special teams miscues, and a porous performance by the offensive line, the Cavaliers seemed to do everything in their power to let the game slip away. A stellar performance by the Virginia defense that had previously given up 27 or more points in their last five games, kept the contest close until the end, as they held the Wake Forest offense to 213 yards of total offense and an astounding single Third-Down conversion in fifteen tries. The defense yielded one touchdown in the game, which was preceded by a 60-yard punt return by the Demon Deacon’s Lovell Jackson, giving Wake a great start to their first possession at the Virginia 16 yard line.
Virginia Quarterback Philip Sims, who made his third consecutive start, found receiver Tim Smith on a 56-yard pass late in the first, but the Cavaliers offense stalled on the next three plays and kicker Ian Frye missed a career-long 44-yard field goal to cap what seemed to be a momentum shifting drive.
The Cavaliers would tie the game with an impressive drive by Sims, who accounted for all 72-yards through great pocket presence, culminating in a 13-yard touchdown pass to Smith. The Cavaliers would precede to lose this momentum as their attempt at a squib kick would backfire as Wake returned it 20 yards to their own 40, with an extra 15 yards tacked on due to a foolish unnecessary roughness penalty on the Cavaliers. Wake would connect on a long pass to put them within the ten yard line, allowing them to kick a 22 yard Chad Hedlund field goal as the quarter ended, giving them a 10-7 halftime lead.
Wake would start the second half with their longest drive of the day, adding another field goal by Hedlund increasing their lead to six. A controversial illegal block penalty on Virginia would keep a three and out Wake Forest drive alive, which ended with another Hedlund field goal. Sims led another solid drive that ended with a Frye field goal, and giving Virginia a chance to come from behind and take the game, but despite the defense’s best efforts, the Virginia offense was unable to add anymore points. An awful interception by Sims in Wake territory and a huge sack by the Demon Deacon front seven, who dominated Virginia’s left-side of the offensive line the entire game, would end consecutive Cavalier drives.
Virginia’s defense was able to come up with another huge three and out stop, but returner Khalek Shepard muffed a fair catch, and the Demon Deacons recovered the fumble and were able to run out the clock, creating an anti-climatic ending to a painful mistake-filled game by the Cavaliers.
With another loss by the team, what could have been a promising season in a surprisingly weak ACC, has instead become a nightmare for a team that has had trouble maintaining any consistency or confidence throughout the season. Coach Mike London will have two weeks to plan for a November 3rd visit to NC State, and whether he continues to let Sims develop as Virginia’s signal caller, or will revert to Michael Rocco, he will need to establish a more balanced offensive game plan to challenge a solid Wolfpack defense.
Virginia has four games left this season, as they attempt to pick up their first conference victory, while they will have to win all four to become bowl eligible.