Cavaliers look to build off victory over Ga Tech
Virginia is hoping this time an upset victory leads to something bigger.
The Cavaliers (4-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat No. 20 Georgia Tech 24-21 on Saturday night, and the victory immediately evoked memories of one against Miami last year.
The Hurricanes had been ranked 22nd, but instead of using the victory as a springboard for a surge, the Cavaliers lost the next week at Duke, and the three games that followed as well.
''We've already talked about it,'' defensive end Jake Snyder said Monday. ''We talked about that yesterday in the meeting rooms. Our coaches have done a great job enforcing that, the fact that we can't have a letdown like we did last year.''
Snyder, just a sophomore, is relatively new on the scene and played sparingly last season.
Senior cornerback Chase Minnifield, though, said the ability to move on is critical.
''Winning programs, they don't worry about big games,'' Minnifield said. ''You know, you win and you go to the next week. That's the problem around here, I think, is a lot of times we get a big win and it sticks around for weeks. You know, let it go. Let's get to the next one.''
The next one, and fourth consecutive home game for Virginia, is North Carolina State (3-3, 0-2), which is coming off a 38-24 victory against Central Michigan. Before that, the Wolfpack lost 45-35 to the Yellow Jackets, so coach Tom O'Brien noted the Cavaliers' victory with interest.
''This is a big, powerful football team on both sides of the ball,'' he said of the Cavaliers. ''They've got nine of their 11 guys on defense juniors or seniors. A lot of experience back there, and they did obviously a great job of running the clock out last week against Georgia Tech.''
The Cavaliers, clinging to a 24-21 lead, did that by hanging onto the ball for the final 5:58 by driving inside the Yellow Jackets' 5 before taking a knee to secure the victory.
Even the players, quickly surrounded by the hundreds of fans that streamed onto the field in celebration, didn't wait long before drawing a parallel with the triumph against the Hurricanes.
''At this point we just can't get complacent,'' center Anthony Mihota said, recalling the 55-48, loss to the Blue Devils on a 35-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds left. ''We've just got to think about that and make sure it doesn't happen again and just play one game at a time.''
It might have to bring along some of the prevailing confidence surrounding the team leading up the game against the Yellow Jackets. The Cavaliers not only had two weeks to prepare to stop the triple option, but a coaching staff that was pretty certain a victory was on a horizon as well.
''For the past two weeks, we said we're going to win this game,'' defensive coordinator Jim Reid said after his team limited the explosive attack to 296 yards and a pair of TDs. ''Everybody that wrote recruiting letters said that `When you get this letter, we're going to be celebrating a win over the No. 12 team in the country.' Before you can do anything, you have to believe.''
And then, Mihota said, keep believing.
''Hopefully it does become the start of something,'' he said. ''Hopefully we can take this and build on it.''