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Virginia quarterback David Watford threw for 263 yards on Saturday in the Cavaliers’ 27-26 loss to Maryland.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. Sometimes, the other team simply is better.
Not by a lot, but just by enough.
Sometimes, the other team makes plays that win the game, even when you’re close to preventing those plays from being made.
Sometimes you play well enough to win and instead you lose.
Sometimes you play badly enough to lose and instead you win.
The University of Virginia football team is all too familiar with the former. The Cavaliers would love to experience the latter.
They’re not there yet.
Saturday, they showed signs they might get there one day, but that was little solace.
Just as there is no crying in baseball, there are no moral victories in college football.
The Cavaliers lost to Maryland here Saturday, 27-26, in a game they easily could have won.
And while place-kicker Alec Vozenilek was willing to take the blame on his shoulders, the fact was the broad shoulders of the Cavaliers’ defense and offense were even more complicit in the outcome.
“I had a chance to win the game, and I missed it,” said Vozenilek. “That was the last chance we had.”
Vozenilek pushed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right with 10 seconds left in the game.
Vozenilek is the Cavaliers’ punter and was kicking in only his second game because Ian Frye is sidelined with a hip flexor problem.
For Vozenilek, the miss overshadowed the four field goals he made.
But Vozenilek’s teammates weren’t about to let him stand alone. One after another offered consoling words and mentioned shortcomings in other areas.
Fifth-year senior and starting center Luke Bowanko and tight end Jake McGee pointed to the Cavaliers’ failure to score touchdowns in the red zone.
Defensive end Jake Snyder and cornerback DreQuan Hoskey lamented the big plays given up by the defense, especially on third downs.
Virginia coach Mike London said, “Alec should not shoulder the blame or anything like that. That’s his first miss since he’s been kicking. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
It’s easy to say the Cavaliers did everything necessary to win Saturday, except win.
It’s too easy, in fact.
Progress was made, but not enough.
Quarterback David Watford passed for 263 yards with no interceptions or sacks. The Cavaliers rushed for 255 yards.
However, the Cavaliers had first downs on the Maryland 13-, 6-, 11- and 17-yard lines and had to settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.
Often when a team leaves that many points on the field, it has a haunting result.
Saturday was such a day for the Cavaliers.
Still, to win the game, all Virginia needed to do was stop Maryland on a third-and-22 play from the Terps’ 40.
Instead, quarterback Caleb Rowe, playing because starter C.J. Brown was out because of a concussion, completed a 47-yard pass to wide receiver Deon Long.
Two Cavaliers were with Long. He made the play, and they didn’t.
Had the Cavaliers’ defense, playing without starting defensive tackle Brent Urban and cornerback Demetrious Nicholson, done what the Maryland defense did all afternoon — protect the end zone — Virginia could have won.
Instead, Rowe threw a 12-yard touchdown pass for the game-winning points.
The offense gave Vozenilek a final chance, but that final kick could have been made so much easier.
When the Cavaliers reached Maryland’s 25, three straight running plays were called.
Watford had thrown well enough to make one more pass an acceptable risk in that situation. It’s not as if the Cavaliers are going to win the national championship.
They’re just trying to win one game.
On paper, the Cavaliers did enough to beat Maryland.
On the field, they came up short.
Learning to win sometimes is a painful process. And the Cavaliers are experiencing a good deal of pain this season.
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