UVa Finds Another Way to Lose - WSET.com - ABC13

UVa Finds Another Way to Lose

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Zach Laskey and David Sims each ran for two touchdowns and Georgia Tech overcame five turnovers to hold off Virginia 35-25 Saturday.

---------To see the box score CLICK HERE. ----------

Robert Godhigh also ran for a touchdown for Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which never trailed and responded every time Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC) made it close.

Sims scored on the Yellow Jackets' third play of the game and sealed it with a 29-yard TD run with 1:55 left after Virginia had cut the lead to 28-25 on David Watford's 12-yard touchdown pass to Darius Jennings and 2-point conversion pass to Khalek Shepherd.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Virginia had cut Georgia Tech's lead to 21-17 on Watford's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jennings. But the Yellow Jackets responded with a 65-yard touchdown run by Godhigh to again stretch their lead to double digits.

Georgia Tech got lots of big plays from its triple-option offense, rolling up 507 yards as three backs rushed for over 100 -- Laskey with 133, Godhigh with 111 and Sims with 107.

Virginia got no points off Georgia Tech's turnovers -- three fumbles and two Anthony Harris interceptions -- but moved the ball well against the nation's 12th-rated defense. Watford was 43 of 61 for 376 yards for the Cavaliers, whose 444 total yards were over a 100 more than Georgia Tech has allowed on average.

Two veteran Virginia receivers who have yielded playing time recently to younger players found plenty of open space in the Georgia Tech secondary and had career days. Jennings, a junior, had 13 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns and senior Tim Smith had 10 receptions for 151 yards. It was the first time in Virginia history two players caught at least 10 passes in the same game.

The Cavaliers had the ball nearly 10 minutes longer than Georgia Tech, which entered the game No. 2 in the nation in time of possession.

However, Virginia failed to capitalize on some key opportunities. Perhaps the most glaring missed chance came late in the first half after a Harris interception gave Virginia the ball at its own 41. The Cavaliers quickly moved to the Georgia Tech 14 on three passes from Watford to Jennings. A pass interference penalty against Louis Young in the end zone put the Cavaliers at the 2.

Kevin Parks was stopped at the 1 with six seconds left, and Virginia burned its last timeout. Rather than settle for the chip-shot field goal, the Cavaliers ran Parks off tackle again. The Yellow Jackets stopped him short of the goal line and jubilantly sprinted into the locker room with their 14-10 lead intact.

It was the second time a gamble failed to pay off for Virginia. On their second possession of the game, the Cavaliers lined up for a 32-yard field-goal try on fourth-and-6. An offsides penalty against Georgia Tech made it fourth-and-1, and the crowd pleaded with coach Mike London to go for the first down. He obliged, but Watford overthrew fullback Billy Scrobacz in the flat.

The game started with a here-we-go-again feeling for the Cavaliers, who gave up a 70-yard touchdown to Georgia Tech on the first play of last year's loss to the Yellow Jackets, when Sims scored on a 36-yard burst up the middle barely over a minute into the game. The score came after a 35-yard run by Goodhigh.

But the Cavaliers settled in after that, forcing fumbles on Georgia Tech's next two possessions and a punt on the third that pinned the Cavaliers at their 2. Virginia responded with a 13-play, 87-yard drive capped by Alec Vozenilek's 28-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

Georgia Tech stormed back with a 59-yard kickoff return by Lynn Griffin to the Virginia 41. Seven plays later, Laskey scored from the 7 to extend the lead to 14-3.

Virginia went right back to work on offense, driving 73 yards in 10 plays to make it 14-10 on Parks' 6-yard touchdown run.

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Virginia Game Notes (courtesy UVa athletics)

Team Notes
• Virginia has now lost five games in a row to fall to 2-6, 0-4 ACC.
• Virginia is 17-18-1 all-time vs. Georgia Tech.
• Virginia first-time starters: Zach Bradshaw** (OLB) – ** - denotes true freshman
• Virginia started four true freshmen on defense: (Zach Bradshaw, Tim Harris, Max Valles, Donte Wilkins)
• Georgia Tech is only the second team this season to score on its opening possession of the game against UVa. Oregon also scored on its opening drive against Virginia (Sept. 7).
• Georgia Tech had three players rush for over 100 yards (Zach Laskey -133, Robert Godhigh – 111 and David Sims – 107), marking only the second time in UVa history an opponent accomplished the feat. Clemson in 1982 also had three players rush for over 100 yards with Cliff Austin (105), Chuck McSwain (103) and Jeff McCall (103).
• For the second game in a row, UVa was successful on a two-point conversion when David Watford found Khalek Shepherd in the end zone.

Player Notes
• Quarterback David Watford had a career-high 376 passing yards. The 376 passing yards are the fourth-most in a game in UVa history.
• Watford completed a career-high 43 passes on a career-high 61 pass attempts.
• The 43 pass completions is a UVa record, breaking Matt Schaub's 41 completions against Georgia Tech in 2002.
• The 61 passing attempts is also a UVa record, breaking Matt Schaub's 58 attempts against Georgia Tech in 2002.
Darius Jennings (13 catches) and Tim Smith (10 catches) became the first UVa receiving duo in program history to amass at least 10 catches in the same game.
• Jennings (119 yards) and Smith (151 yards) became the first UVa receiving duo to record over 100 receiving yards in the same since Jennings (136) and Perry Jones (100) did so in 2012 against Louisiana Tech.
• The 13 catches for Jennings were a career high.
• Jennings' 13 receptions were the most by a Cavalier since Mikell Simpson had 13 at Maryland in 2007.
• The 13 receptions are tied for the second-most in a game by a UVa player. Besides Jennings and Simpson, Alvin Pearman had 13 in 2003 against NC State and Heath Miller had 13 against Virginia Tech in 2003.
Kevin Parks tied a career high with his ninth rushing touchdown. Parks also had nine rushing TD's in 2011.
• The 10 catches and 151 receiving yards for Smith were career highs.
• Parks has scored 23 career rushing touchdowns, ranking 8th on UVa's all-time list.
Anthony Harris intercepted his fourth and fifth passes of the season.
• The two interceptions was the first multi-interception game by a Cavalier since Rodney McLeod had three at Maryland in 2011.
Eli Harold recovered his second career fumble.
Brandon Phelps recovered his first career fumble.
Khalek Shepherd has a seven-game reception streak.
Jake Snyder forced his third career fumble.
Max Valles recovered his first career fumble.
Donte Wilkins forced his first career fumble.

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Mike London Quotes

On game:
"Obviously, it is disappointing to lose the game. It is very disappointing to have had five turnovers and not be able to capitalize and score on some of those opportunities. Some of the players had career days, but you would rather have the W. There were some good things that happened out there, but not enough good things that allowed us to win. We have a lot of work to do for this football team. We are trying to win games. That is the goal and that is the challenge."

Going into halftime:
"We got down there and obviously we could have kicked the field goal, but this team is 2-5 [record]. We are trying to score a touch down. We did a great job moving the ball down there and we wanted a touchdown. We can talk about play selection, but what we tried was a jumbo package play and we tried to show them something different and capitalize on that, but we didn't."

On defense:
"It is hard to play a team like this that is No. 2 in time of possession. At times, we played well defensively, and at times we didn't. It is easy to try to simulate the triple option and adjust to the speed of the game until you are up against a team that does it all the time and does it well. We were not up to game speed with that style of offense. As time went on, some guys made some nice plays. We have to look for the things we need to do to win football games."

On missed opportunities:
"It obviously is hard to look back on the game and reflect on those missed opportunities. Their defense was a very good defense, only giving up 19 points a game. Sometimes you have those opportunities that give you a chance, there were some good things that occurred, but none that were good enough to give us the win. This is who we are right now. They are young players, very good young players."

On offense:
"We thought we could still run the ball effectively if we spread them out, but as the game went on, we realized the thing for us to do was to spread the ball by throwing it. That became the adopted game plan and we continued the game doing that."

UVa Player Quotes

Senior Defensive Tackle Jake Snyder

On frustrations of not winning after forcing five turnovers:
"It comes down to playing our assignments again. Turnovers were a big focus this week. They have been all year. Today we were able to create a bunch of them. We did a good job of that, but gave up too many big plays. That is what hurt us."

On difficulty of first series against Georgia Tech:
"It is definitely tough for the young guys. You try to tell them in practice, the coaches try to tell them, but it is impossible to replicate that speed in practice. You have to know what is coming and expect it. But still, my first reps a few years ago were the same way. You have to feel it first and get used to it. One little mistake can lead to a big play, like you saw. Once everyone gets a feel for it, it is a different ball game."

On getting beat on third downs:
"It is tough. Again it comes down to playing your assignment. They kind of lull you to sleep a little bit by getting those three and four-yard runs and then they throw one over your head. It is hard, but everyone has to stick to their assignment and stay focused. That is what it comes down to."

Junior Running Back Kevin Parks

On failing to get into the end zone at the end of the first half:
"I take that one on myself. It was a short yardage situation and you have to plug it in. The opportunity was there and I have to get it in no matter what."

On Watford's performance:
"Dave has the heart of a lion. The kid is playing good ball. He is our leader. We followed him today and he played with his heart. That is what we try to get a lot of guys to do around here. David played hard, but we need to corral around him and get more guys playing at a higher level.

On feelings of needing to capitalize after a turnover:
"Any time they turn the ball over, we need to put points on the board. We need to help out our defense, but we did not do that today. We have to seize the opportunities that we get."

Sophomore Quarterback David Watford

On breaking passing records:
"It's cool to have a record, but I would rather have the record in a win rather than in a loss. Either way, it shows our progress. We are still fighting week in and week out without a doubt. Even though we lost today, we are going to keep fighting every game."

On his performance:
"I didn't feel like I was on today. I feel like our receivers made big plays for me. I missed some throws I should have made, but my receivers made me look good. When you have a receiving corps like ours, you are waiting for them to break out. Today was that game. This is just going to give them more confidence. I just have to put the ball in an area where they can catch it and they will go make plays."

On frustration of not scoring after any turnovers:
"It was very frustrating. We left a lot of points on the field. Capitalizing after turnovers was one thing that we wanted to focus on this week. It was very frustrating getting five turnovers from your defense but you can't capitalize on it. Field goals, getting stopped on the goal line, that is very frustrating for the offense."

Junior Linebacker Daquan Romero

On Georgia Tech's opening possession touchdown:
"It's always frustrating when they score on the first possession. We always look at it and say we have to stop everyone on the first series. We don't want anyone to score and want to stop their momentum. It was a mental error there and they just took advantage of it. "

On the offense scoring zero points off five turnovers:
"You can't really place the blame on the offense, even with the turnovers. At the end of the day, we just have to get the win. It's not just about those five turnovers, it's about four quarters. There were a lot of times when we let them score. You can't just put the blame on the offense."

On Georgia Tech's big plays:
"The sixty-five-yard run was my fault. I didn't line up wide enough and the wing cut me off so Anthony [Harris] had to come up and hit the quarterback. I had to take his position and had to try to chase down the running back."

Freshman Defensive Tackle Donte Wilkins

On his play:
"I think I did well. I tried my hardest and that's all that Coach can ask for. It still wasn't enough to get the win, and that's all that matters to me."

On dealing with the triple option:
"The toughest part was using our hands and getting off the ground then looking for who has the ball out of the three running backs in the backfield."

On his Coach's pregame speech:
"[Jonathan Lewis] told me it was time to step up and be the person who they wanted in the field and not who we have to put there. He said that before the game and I just tried to go out there and make myself into the one who they wanted to play."

Senior Wide Receiver Tim Smith

On the improved passing game:
"That's definitely a positive we can take from the game today. Me, Darius [Jennings], David [Watford] and a few others stepped up on the offensive side. We've been taking a lot of criticism at the receiving position, so we took it upon ourselves to make a statement today."

On the criticism of the wide receivers this season
"We are definitely aware, but we just ignore it. No one sees what we do Monday through Friday. They only see what happens Saturday. "

On failing to convert scoring opportunities
"That's something we definitely need to work on. We had the ball three or four times in the red zone and couldn't punch it in. We had one first-and-goal at the two (at the end of the first half) and we couldn't get it in. We definitely need to work on finishing it off."

Junior Wide Receiver Darius Jennings

On the passing game improving today
"The coaches challenged us. We just had another opportunity to make a statement and so when the ball was in the air, we went and got it."

On his own production today
"Definitely a good feeling. I haven't been as productive as I would have liked or the team would have liked all season. There have been some bumps in the road. This was just a point to get back on track. I've been working my butt off in practice and just putting forth my best effort. You can see that in the connections between David [Watford] and the receivers at this point."

On wins and losses vs. simply improving the rest of the season
"The final score is always important. As an athlete, as a football player and as a competitor, you just want to win. We definitely think about the wins and losses. It is great that were able to improve in the passing game today, but it still wasn't enough. It doesn't matter what our stats are if we have a loss on the board at the end of the day."

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson Quotes

Opening remarks:
"It was kind of a crazy game with all of the turnovers and penalties. I have to give the kids credit for finding a way to win. We couldn't get ourselves off the field defensively, but yet we weren't giving up a lot of points, so we were able to hang in. The penalties really hurt us on that side of the ball. The running into the kicker was just inexcusable. In that situation, we had all the momentum. We were about to get the ball back at midfield and we do that, instead they convert and get a touchdown. Our quarterback made two huge plays. The down-field pass to DeAndre Smelter was huge and then at the end, the last drive off the play action was a nice play by him. We would like to throw the ball a little more if we could protect it better. I look at the stats and am disappointed in the way we blocked, yet we rushed for 394 yards, so I don't know what to say about that. All in all, we dug down and we found a way to win the game, so that is a positive."

On turnovers:
"It was just unforced turnovers, like dropping the ball. It was hard to explain. We cleaned it up a little bit in the second half, but at times it wasn't smooth. We pitched one over our heads, so we have a lot of work to do. I thought we were getting better at some of that stuff."

On changing quarterbacks:
"[Justin Thomas] had been practicing, we were just going to roll him. [Thomas] went in and we scored a touchdown ,so you are not going to pull him out. That was it. At the one-minute, I told [Vad Lee] to go in and I guess [Lee] was back behind me and the other one [Thomas] was right there when I grabbed [Thomas] and sent him in. It is no big deal. [Lee] played the second half and I thought he played well in the second half. [Lee] also turned the ball over in the first half, so give the other kid a chance."

On defense
"We got some fourth down stops. At times, it was feast or famine. We did a decent job with the score when you see how many plays they ran. The second half was crazy. I think we had the ball four times in the second half, including there at the end. It was just one of those games. The offense was its own worst enemy turning the ball over. Its not like they were really stepping up, we just pitched it on the ground."

On penalties
"I think we had one motion penalty early on offense. The rest were all on defense or special teams, which is the opposite of what it has been. Those pass interference penalties are key, especially on third and long. I don't know if I have ever won a game where we were minus-five in turnovers and had 10 penalties. "

On guarding David Watford
"I think we went in with a defensive plan that we were going to try to limit the run and get [Watford] off the field on third down. I don't know what their third down conversions are, but they are higher than they had been. [Watford] had some good throws, but he had guys wide open too. It was kind of a combination. We got them in third and long some, but they converted more than you would like."

Third down conversions
"At times, the offense did a good job, when they held on to the ball. They played us defensively exactly as we had expected them to. Verbatim."

Georgia Tech Player Quotes

Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback Vad Lee

On the four turnovers in the first half:
"It was self-inflicted stuff. It wasn't anything special they were doing. It was all on us, so we'll get it fixed."

On what he saw in Virginia's defensive scheme:
"At first, they were moving around a bit and trying to do different stuff. For the most part, we practiced most of that. Their defensive coordinator had seen this stuff a bunch of times before. We just needed to settle down and play our game, but they were coming pretty aggressive."

Redshirt Senior Running Back Robert Godhigh:

On scoring a long touchdown after fumbling earlier in the game:
"It was a big relief. We were trying to get a big play to switch momentum and get the offense in the right direction, and that's what we got."

On rushing for nearly 400 yards as a team:
"We knew we could do it. They played exactly how we practiced. Once we got everyone doing what we needed to do, there wasn't anything they were going to do to stop us."

Redshirt Senior Defensive Lineman Emmanuel Dieke:

On facing the Virginia offensive line:
"First of all, Virginia is a good team. They have an incredible offensive line. As a defensive line, we came into this game knowing that in order for us to win, we were going to have to get pressure. "

On the importance of the win:
"We had to look ourselves in the mirror, individually, and make up our minds on how we wanted this season to go. It was up to us to decide whether we wanted to salvage our season or continue to lose. So as a team and coaching staff, we got together and we decided that we have to take control of our season."

Redshirt Senior Running Back David Sims:

On the play of the running backs:
"We came out and knew we had to put up some big yards. We always talk about how quarterback and B-back are the most important positions in the offense. We needed to play well, and we did."

On the first half fumbles:
"That was pretty uncharacteristic of us to fumble that many times. Virginia did a good job of pouncing on the balls we fumbled. We made the game a lot harder than it had to be, but we ended up getting a win."

On how the team overcame turnover woes:
"That's the game of football. Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don't. I think the thing that impressed me most about our team is that we kept fighting back. We put the defense in bad positions, but they kept answering the bell. Offensively, we did things we don't normally do as far as fumbles. But we'll take it as a learning experience and learn about ball security next week."

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