A Bitter Defeat

In a gut-wrenching game Saturday night, the Virginia Cavaliers simply wanted it more. Several costly plays in the 4th quarter resulted in a 26-24 loss. A loss that likely will send the Tigers out of the top 25. We've highlighted the good, the bad, and the ugly that came out of this bitter defeat.

The Good
Derrick Hamilton appeared to be quicker than everyone on the field. The Dillon, SC native seems to be becoming a focal point of the passing game, and with good reason. Hamilton regualarly made Virginia's linebackers and defensive backs look flat-footed as he danced his way down the field using multiple spin-moves. He finished the game with nine receptions for 90 yards.

Woodrow Dantzler looked very crisp and was extremely accurate with his passing in the first half. The offensive play calling opened up a little as the focus returned to the downfield passing game. Jackie Robinson and Derrick Hamilton both recorded catches over 20-yards in the first half.

The offense moved the football the entire first quarter with a great tempo. For that short time period, it appeared that the team was on track for the first time this season.

The Tiger's first touchdown was on a well-designed trick play. RB Terrance Huey lined up at center, snapped it to Dantzler, who then sent the ball back between Huey's legs. As the backfield faked right, Huey ran left 16 yards to put Clemson ahead 7-0. It was his first career carry.

Finally, Aaron Hunt nailed a career-long 46-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter to give the Tigers a short lived 10-0 lead.

The Bad
During the first half it was obvious the defense continued to lack confidence, allowing several Virginia backs to break into the open field after the first hit. FB Tyree Foreman and RB Arlen Harris seem to plow over the defensive line and linebackers, sometimes needing two or three tacklers to bring him down.

Where is the "no huddle"? The vaunted no huddle attack that Tommy Bowden brought to Clemson 2 years ago seems to have become lack-luster. The ball is no longer regularly snapped in the 15-20 second range of the play clock.

What's wrong with the offensive line? What started out as a promising season has turned into a disaster. Again the Tigers' offensive line was blown off the ball with regularity.

On special teams, Aaron Hunt missed what turned out to be a costly 31-yard field goal only moments after nailing his career best.

Although Woody started out well, and had decent stats, (25-for-34 for 251 yards and 67 yards rushing) he had three costly turnovers, including two interceptions and one fumble.

The Ugly
Kevin Johnson was badly beaten by Billy McMullen in the 2nd quarter on third and long inside the 20, fortunately for the Tigers backup quarterback Matt Schaub threw the ball over McMullen's inside shoulder on a fade route. He was later burned again by McMullen for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

The defensive line sorely missed Nick Eason, who left the game in the first half with an aggravated ankle sprain. For the third straight game pressure on the quarterback was mimimal.

Where is the emotion? The Tigers again looked very flat after the 5:00 minute mark in the 1st quarter. All the momentum that was established a 10-0 lead was slowly erased in the later half of the 2nd quarter. After seemingly turning on a switch trailing 20-10, the Tigers came back to life and took control of the game until the 5:00 minute mark in the 4th quarter. The intensity level must consistently be at a high level for 4 quarters for this team to have a decent season.

The 2nd Half
Virginia came into the 2nd half continuing the their first half momentum. After receiving the kickoff, Woody Dantzler promptly threw an interception and the Tigers quickly found themselves down 3 points. After a 3-and-out, Virginia took the ball straight down the field again for another touchdown and a 10-point lead.

Clemson responded with a 16-play 80 yard touchdown drive, with Woody Dantzler diving over from the one-yard line. (Dantzler was 7-7 for 61 yards)

After the touchdown drive, the defense finally stepped up to the challenge and forced the Cavs to punt after only 3 plays. Travis Zachary then plowed over the left side for a 2-yard touchdown, and a 24-20 Tiger lead.

With the game seemingly in hand and the Tigers' driving deep in UVA territory, Woody Dantzler fumbled the ball after being tackled from his blind side on what looked like was going to be a play-action pass.

The defense held though as Bryant McNeil got to the quarterback on two occasions and caused two offensive holding penalites. After a UVA punt, the offense ran three quick running plays and Wynn Kopp punted the ball to the Clemson 44-yard line with less than 2 minutes remaining.

From there, the Cavs drove straight down the field in 6 plays for the touchdown.

Bryson Spinner completed a 1-yard fade pattern to Billy McMullen right over Brian Mance with 1 second left on the clock to steal the win. In a scene that looked very similar to the Georgia Tech game last year, the Cavs pulled out an incredible 26-24 win, and the Tigers' were left scratching their heads.

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