Dominating Performance

For Virginia, the road to an elusive Atlantic Coast Conference championship remains an impassible one, a treacherous route that still travels through Tallahassee. The upstart Cavaliers were dealt a frustrating reminder of that Saturday night, sustaining a 36-3 loss at the hands of the Florida State Seminoles that supplanted them from their perch atop the ACC.

Virginia is now 1-12 all-time against Florida State and is winless in 23 games against top-10 teams on the road.

"We knew with the national attention it was going to be a big game and we showed up tonight," FSU tailback Leon Washington said. The victory kept alive aspirations for a conference title and BCS bowl appearance, both accolades that have been all but assumed before the new-look ACC debuted this season.

"We've made strides," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "Our kids went out there tonight and showed what they are capable of doing."

Holding true to a formula that has equated success the entire year, the FSU defense dictated the game's tempo to allow the offense to slowly distance itself from the opposition.

After the Cavs gained 40 yards on their opening play from scrimmage and looked ready for a dogfight. They gained just 42 more on their first five drives while the Seminoles built a 19-0 lead during that span.

The swarming FSU defense forced four three-and-outs in the first half while the offense produced a field goal and touchdowns from tailback Lorenzo Booker and receiver Chauncey Stovall. Prior to Saturday, the UVA offense had six three-and-outs in five games.

UVA finally found rhythm late in the second, salvaging a 23-yard field goal as time expired at the half to cap a 12-play hurry-up march.

That momentum carried into the third when the Cavs picked up a pair of first downs. It was squashed when Jerome Carter intercepted a Hagan's passes that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

"We did a good job of taking them out of their offense and putting them into a situation they are not used to," linebacker Buster Davis said. "That's when you can send the house on them and that's what we did tonight."

Ernie Sims got the Seminoles on the board in most unusual fashion. Sims broke through the right side of the UVA line to block Sean Johnson's punt at the 7:20 mark in the first. The ball sailed through the end zone to give FSU a safety and a 2-0 lead.

Critical facemask calls against Virginia sustained two FSU drives in the second quarter that lead to ten points. The 'Noles were bailed out by Isaiah Ekejiuba's yank on Kamerion Wimbley after a gamble on a fake punt failed. A field goal resulted.

Andrew Hoffman's facemask on Leon Washington on FSU's next possession gave new life to a drive that rendered the 6-yard Booker touchdown run.

"I think we were the better prepared team tonight," Booker said. "We really tried to concentrate on doing all of the little things this week."

Sexton turned in his most impressive performance to date since taking over the offensive controls when Chris Rix went down with a sprained ankle. The sophomore completed 20-of-26 passes for a career-high 275 yards, including the 24-yard scoring strike to Stovall. All but one of Sexton's five touchdowns have had Stovall on the receiving end.

"We heard about how good they were on both sides of the ball all week but our guys came out and got it done," said Sexton.

Booker streaked to a career-high 123 yards. Both Booker and Washington added second-half touchdown runs as the Seminoles further distanced themselves.

Virginia (5-1, 2-1 ACC) came into the game averaging 42.4 points and 493.2 yards, but was unable to run against Florida State's vaunted rush defense, which gave up just 5 yards in the first half.

Virginia's only points came on a 23-yard field goal by Connor Hughes as time expired in the first half.

Only the elusiveness of Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans got the Cavaliers on the scoreboard. Under a heavy rush all night, Hagans managed to complete 9 of 11 passes to set up the field goal.

Hagans completed 20 of 30 passes for 214 yards and was intercepted once before leaving after three quarters in favor of Christian Olsen.

Undefeated Miami, winners over the FSU in September, now controls its own destiny in its quest to win an ACC title in their inaugural year in the conference. The Seminoles and Cavs are tied for second with a loss apiece. Miami travels to Virginia Nov. 13.

Florida State (5-1) travels to Wake Forest next Saturday. The Cavs (5-1) will tangle with Duke in a road contest.


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