It took only five plays in two minutes and three seconds for William & Mary to give Virginia fans a scare that wouldn't ever really go away until the fourth quarter. The Virginia Cavaliers came out with their first win of the season, 35-29, but it wasn't the big win that Wahoo fans were hoping for after a strong showing against Notre Dame.
William & Mary scored on each of their first four possessions to take a 20-14 lead midway through the second quarter. Virginia's Matt Johns would connect with his roommate and WR Canaan Severin to give the Hoos the go-ahead touchdown for a 21-20 lead heading into the locker room, never to look back again.
Set to receive in the second half, the Hoos were caught completely by surprise when the Tribe opened the second half with a successful onside kick. The Hoos' defense would hold strong to force a 3-and-out as the Tribe would punt into the endzone. No harm, no foul.
But then things started getting fun as Steve Fairchild would finally get his say, showing off how a screen pass can, in fact, be successful. A screen to Smoke Mizzell would turn into an 80-yard touchdown, Virginia's longest touchdown pass since Michael Rocco's 78-yard touchdown pass at Miami in 2011. It was a career catch for Mizzell and career pass for Johns.
William & Mary would be held to 3-and-out, but then magical things happened as Maurice Canady would return the punt for a touchdown for the first time since 2004. The Hoos would take a 35-20 lead, and Virginia fans would breathe a small sigh of relief.
That relief would be short-lived.
First, Virginia would give up a safety. 35-22. (To be fair to Virginia, the Hoos' defense held William & Mary to Virginia's 1-yard line, but the offense wasn't able to get out their own endzone, and gave up a safety on a blocked punt.) But you can't even be mad, because seriously, who doesn't enjoy a safety every now and then?
Then, William & Mary would drive and, possibly with the help of a gift time-out, bring the score up to 35-29.
Here is our quick-hit review of each of the three units, with more analysis to come in the next couple days!
Offense: The offense kind of did...what they were supposed to against an FCS defense. The Hoos didn't really struggle throughout the first half and even through the third quarter, but with 5:18 to play and up only by 6, you'd want to see a little more than a 3-and-out that didn't do anything to eat up clock time. It was an inopportune time for the O-line to give up the first sack of the day for Matt Johns.
Defense: Struggle city. The defense was similar to what we saw last week against Notre Dame - decent for the most part but just giving up way too many big plays. Virginia has become too dependent on the blitz.
Special Teams: We'll say, net neutral? Returning a punt for a touchdown is a big deal. Failing to recover the onside kick, and hitting both posts on a field goal attempt (a flag gave Virginia second chance for the kick) are...not good. You can't really fault them too much for the safety - you try punting when the line of scrimmage is at the one-yard line with giant men rushing at you and see what happens.
Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for continuing coverage as the Hoos escape with their first win of the season.