|"It is the most important victory of my career." -- Head Coach Dick Voris, after the
Hoos’ 15-12 victory over Duke on September 27, 1958. Voris finished his UVA career
with a record of 1-29.
|"We've stopped recruiting young men who want to come here to be students first and
athletes second." -- Former Virginia head coach Sonny Randle, describing his strategy
for turning around UVA's football program
|"As the score mounted, to 20-0 and finally 26-0, his movements slowed. With two
minutes to go and South Carolina threatening once more, Voris stood behind several
rows of substitutes, staring at his shoes." -- Sports Illustrated, describing Coach Voris’
stellar coaching performance during the Hoos’ 26-0 loss to South Carolina in 1960
|"Really, Texas wasn't as good as I thought they'd be." -- Ted Manly, Virginia's
freshman quarterback, after Texas had spanked the Hoos 68-0
|UVA Football’s Top 20 Stomach Punch Games (1989-2008)
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|#15: Maryland 28, UVA 26 (October 14, 2006)
The Al Groh Era didn't turn out like any Wahoo fan would have wanted. We never
played for a conference championship. We couldn't sustain any degree of in-state
recruiting success. We went 1-8 against the Hokies. We never had the signature,
program-altering victory we all coveted (see SPG #18). And long home winning
streaks against the likes of Wake Forest, Maryland, and Georgia Tech all went by the
But I can think of two nice things to say about our on-field accomplishments under Al
Groh: UNC still hasn't won in Charlottesville since 1981, and the Al Groh Hoos never
blew a 21-point lead.
Of course, the Groh Hoos did blow a 20 point lead -- to a bitter rival, at home. It
included several boneheaded mistakes. Oh, and a questionable coaching decision
thrown in for good measure. In short, while the game didn't feature any postgame
poetry from Coach Al, it had all the ingredients for a classic Hoo stomach punch.
Sometimes a heartbreaking loss has absolutely nothing to do with high expectations
or bowl games or conference standings. After losing to future NFL stud Chris Johnson
and East Carolina the previous week to start the season 2-4, it's safe to say that the
team and its fans were just looking to win a football game.
With the departure of Marques Hagans, UVA had just embarked on its highly
unsuccessful Revolving Quarterback Era, which friends and family would enjoy through
the rest of the decade, and perhaps beyond. Having already suffered three "pick six"
interceptions in the first six games of the 2006 season, the Hoos would turn to redshirt
freshman Jameel Sewell for this game. Sewell would make his first start for Virginia
on this day and immediately proceed to showcase both the natural talent and the
maddening inconsistency that would become the hallmarks of his UVA career.
Looking beyond the quarterback position, the 2006 team featured a surprising amount
of high-end talent. Future NFLers included offensive linemen Eugene Monroe
(Jacksonville) and Branden Albert (Kansas City), tight ends Tom Santi (Indy), Jonathan
Stupar (Buffalo) and John Phillips (Dallas), wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (Dallas) and
running back Jason Snelling (Atlanta).
The defense also included several studs, including NFLers Chris Long (St. Louis) and
Clint Sintim (New York Giants), as well as other productive players such as Jeffrey
Fitzgerald, Marcus Hamilton and Chris Cook.
Yeah, we went 5-7.
The Terps were 3-2 on the season coming into this game, but the two losses had
come on the road against ranked opponents (West Virginia and Georgia Tech). They
would go on to finish to 9-4 in 2006, so this was a good team entering Scott Stadium.
The Terps had not won in Charlottesville since 1990 (more on that game later), and
Wahoo fans were looking to ensure that Ralph Friedgen wouldn't go home fat and
happy. Just fat.
It should also be noted, in deference to the esteemed webmaster of this site, that this
game featured the first unveiling of the Hoos' blue-on-blue uniforms. I'm not sure that
means anything, but I remember the last game of the 1986 season when we
unleashed the orange-on-orange uniforms against Maryland. We lost 42-10.
Uniform gimmicks suck.
Size of Lead Lost – 9 out of 10 Points
Virginia immediately looked like a different team. The Hoos jumped out to a
quick 10-0 first quarter lead, as Jameel Sewell scored on a quarterback draw
from 36 yards out to start the scoring. Sewell then hit Kevin Ogletree from 38
yards out in the second quarter to make it 17-0. The Hoos had a golden
opportunity to go up 24-0 before the half, as Sewell hit Ogletree for a 51 yard gain
to the Maryland 4 to set up a first and goal. Three ineffective plays later, UVA
kicked a short field goal on the last play of the half. The Hoos would later
discover those four points would come in handy, but 20-0 still seemed like a
pretty solid lead at the time.
As an aside, it's interesting to note the Hoos had three plays of more than 35
yards in the first half. Virginia hadn't had a single 35-yard play in the first six
games of the 2006 season. The shell-shocked Terps must have been in
Level of Choke – 7 out of 10 Points
The Terps would not have won this game without significant help from Virginia.
It's not like Terps QB Sam Hollenbach was torching the secondary. But right on
cue, the help they needed would come early in the third quarter, as punt returner
Emmanuel Byers muffed a punt at the one yard line. One play later it was 20-7.
Next, it was a 16 yard punt from deep in UVA territory that gave Maryland the ball
at the 31 yard line. Soon thereafter, the lead was six.
Then, it was a Keon Lattimore 56 yard run, and the 20-point lead was now a one-
But wait – there's more!
Singular Moment – 6 out of 10 Points
With eight minutes left in the game, UVA suffered its fourth pick-six interception of
the season when Sewell threw a pass into the chest of Terp LB Erin Henderson,
who returned it 45 yards for another score to make the score 28-20.
The quick combination of body blows left Scott Stadium stunned.
Painful Finish – 5 out of 10 Points
It wouldn't be a classic UVA stomach punch without the Hoos giving their fans a
little hope after the bludgeoning suffered during the first 22 minutes of the
second half. Sewell got his shit back together and drove UVA into the red zone.
Facing a fourth and four at the Terp 15, Groh elected to go for it rather than
kicking the field goal to make it 28-23. Not a terrible decision at the time, but in
hindsight those 3 points also would have also come in handy, as the fourth down
pass went incomplete in the end zone.
UVA would get a defensive stop, however, which gave them one final chance with
three minutes left. Sewell only needed one play to find Ogletree again for
another long touchdown to make it 28-26. However, the two-point try to tie the
game failed and the Hoos couldn't get the ball back, as Maryland ran out the
Season Killer – 3 out of 10 Points
At 2-4, high expectations were already gone for the 2006 season, but this loss
would essentially cost the Hoos bowl eligibility. The Hoos would win three of
their next four games (UNC, NC State and Miami), but fell to 5-7 in the season's
final week. Sewell played just well enough to give fans some hope for success
in 2007, but the team would continue to struggle offensively throughout the latter
half of the 2006 season, averaging only 11 ppg over the final five games and
suffering two shutout losses.
Long-Term Implications – 2 out of 10 Points
The program was already on its downhill slide before this game, and the
Maryland collapse played only a small part in the growing level of suckitude. A
bowl appearance in 2006 would have helped a little, but there was no reason the
2006 team should have struggled to the degree it did given the talent on board.
The Hoos scored more than 17 points only four times all year. Fans were
realizing that offensive coordinator Mike Groh might not be the answer and that
there were systemic problems that would never be solved by the current
coaching regime. In hindsight, it is a shame it took another three years before a
significant change would be made, as the hole seems a lot deeper in 2009 than
it did in 2006.
While this game featured one of the few instances that an Al Groh coached team blew
a sizable lead, it could be said that in recent years, the Hoos consistently struggled to
achieve large leads in the first place. Regardless, losing at home to Maryland would
have been painful enough, but watching Ralph Friedgen happily jiggle-jog off the field
for a post-game pudding bath after a huge comeback win definitely qualifies as an
all-time stomach punch loss.
|Overall Score – 32 out of 60 Points (Stomach Punch Factor 53%)
|UVA Football - Random Musings