Ellis’s TD caps rally for Cavs
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Matt Johns was at a loss for words, and so the first thing he did was laugh.
“It’s hard to describe how much we needed that,” Virginia’s quarterback said after the Cavaliers rallied to pull even on the final play of regulation and then beat Syracuse, 44-38, in three overtimes Saturday night. “Just morally, physically, mentally, just everything.”
The victory snapped a twogame losing streak for Virginia (2-4, 1-1 ACC) and came in a way that Coach Mike London said he hopes can provide a springboard of confidence and similar success as the Cavaliers head into the second half of the season.
First, the Cavs drove 88 yards in 19 plays, eating up the final 6 minutes 52 seconds on the game clock, to set up Ian Frye’s tying 25-yard field goal as regulation expired. Then, they traded touchdowns with the Orange through two overtimes before stuffing Syracuse in the third for the victory.
They even got a call to go their way to make the tying drive possible. It arrived in the form of a face-mask penalty against the Orange as Albert Reid was tackled for a six-yard gain on third and 15 at the beginning of the drive. The additional 15 yards kept the drive alive.
“I remember looking up and saying, ‘Thank you, big guy. I appreciate that,’ ” London said.
In the third overtime, Jordan Ellis scored on a three-yard run after Virginia held Syracuse to a 48-yard field goal try that missed. The Cavaliers sacked Eric Dungey for a six-yard loss on third and 10 from the 25 to force the long kick, which would have been Murphy’s career best.
The play left Dungey, a freshman, disgusted with himself.
“I saw the pressure coming and I should have gotten rid of the ball,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”
It didn’t help the Orange that overtime went quickly, not allowing its defense to rest after Virginia’s regulation-ending drive.
“I thought they kept playing hard,” Orange Coach Scott Shafer said of his players. “It was hard to tell from the sideline angle, but any gas they had, they left it on the field. . . . The kids are exhausted, that’s for sure.”
The Orange (3-3, 1-1) lost its third in a row.
The second overtime went quickly. Virginia scored in three plays, with Taquan Mizzell running the last 13 yards for a touchdown. Syracuse, starting at the 12 because of a Virginia penalty, needed just one play as Dungey rolled right and found Steve Ishmael just inside the right pylon.
Syracuse got the ball first in OT and needed only five plays, with Dungey hitting Ervin Phillips with a seven-yard touchdown pass. A targeting foul against Zach Brad shaw on the play forced Virginia to start its drive at the 40, and on third down, Johns rolled right and hit Canaan Severin for 36 yards and the tying touchdown.
Virginia trailed most of the game but got the ball with 6:52 left in regulation and used it all to tie it. The drive covered 88 yards in 19 plays, was highlighted by Johns’s 11-yard pass to Mizzell on fourth and three from near midfield and ended with Frye’s 25-yard field goal.