Virginia beats Richmond 45-13 to end 10-game skid

September 6, 2014

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Matt Johns led two touchdown drives and Eli Harold returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown Saturday as Virginia ended a 10-game losing streak with a 45-13 victory against Richmond.

Johns, whose effectiveness last week in relief of starter Greyson Lambert reopened the Cavaliers' quarterback competition, threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Canaan Severin and hit Darius Jennings for 45 yards to set up another score as Virginia (1-1) won for the first time since beating VMI last September.

Michael Strauss, who began his career at Virginia but transferred after one season, was 24 for 36 for 266 yards for the Spiders (1-1), but threw two interceptions and fumbled twice while being sacked, leading to two Cavaliers touchdowns.

On the second fumble, caused by Max Valles, Harold scooped it up and scored, making it 31-6.


The Spiders had seven turnovers, including a fumble by T.J. Moon near the Cavaliers goal line just before halftime with Richmond poised to pull within 14-10. Instead, linebacker Henry Coley stripped him and Brandon Phelps recovered.

The game also featured the return of former Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco to Scott Stadium. Rocco started every game for Virginia in 2011, leading them to an 8-5 record and the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but transferred after the following season.

Rocco guided the Spiders to their lone touchdown, capping a 71-yard drive with a 6-yard run, but he also threw an interception and fumbled the ball away late in the game when it slipped out of his hands as he cocked his arm to throw.

If the game moved Virginia closer to determining a starting quarterback, it wasn't clear.

Johns played the second and third quarters and led a 35-yard touchdown drive after Harold sacked Strauss and Valles recovered, and led a 61-yard drive featuring his 45-yard connection to Jennings to set up Taquan Mizzell's 3-yard TD run.

Lambert, a team captain who started for the second week in a row, directed a 14-play, 76-yard drive to Kevin Parks' 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, then threw a 29-yard scoring pass to Severin early in the fourth quarter.

Johns finished 4 for 7 for 65 yards with a TD and an interception. Lambert was 13 of 15 for 102 yards with the TD.

David Watford, who started all last season at quarterback for Virginia, played the final few series.


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