Oct 11, 2003
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By PETE IACOBELLIAP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Virginia coach Al Groh didn’t buy it two years ago and he wasn’t listening now.
“There was no push off,” he said Saturday, “Don’t even ask that.”
Groh talked about Clemson receiver Kevin Youngblood’s 4-yard touchdown catch that gave the Tigers a 30-27 overtime victory. But he could’ve easily been discussing how the Cavaliers pulled off a last-second victory on Billy McMullen’s TD reception in 2001 at Death Valley.
“That wasn’t the case with our guy then,” Groh said. “And it’s not the case now.”
It sure looked as though Youngblood created some space on defender Jamaine Winborne only moments before Charlie Whitehurst’s floater landed in the receiver’s hands.
“Just a little separation,” Youngblood said, smiling. “He was putting his hands on me all day long. Hey, I put my hands on him. Like I said, I’m a big, tall, physical receiver, I just went and got the ball.”
And it brought the Tigers (4-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) their first victory over a ranked team in nine games.
Clemson gave up a 10-point lead to trail 17-10. Then fought back again after Virginia forced overtime with 57 seconds remaining.
“I think the players learned something about themselves,” Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said.
Virginia (4-2, 3-1), looking for its first 4-0 league start since sharing the conference crown in 1995, had the ball first in the extra period and settled for Connor Hughes’ 33-yard field goal after running back Alvin Pearman was stopped on a third-and-1 play by linebacker LeRoy Hill.
“I just saw a hole and had to get up in there,” Hill said. “He wasn’t going to get it.”
Groh said he considered going for it on fourth down. “But if you go for it and miss, then the game’s over,” he said.
Clemson then took over and Whitehurst’s 12-yard pass to Duane Coleman gave the Tigers a first down at the Virginia 7. Two plays later, Whitehurst floated a pass into the left corner that Youngblood leaped to catch.
Asked what he was watching for on the last play, Bowden said “Flags.”
Instead, it was orange-clad Clemson fans rushing the field as players surrounded and piled onto Youngblood.
“I’ve never been involved in a win like this at Clemson,” said Whitehurst, a sophomore. “Virginia got us two years ago just like this. It just happened to them this time. We were on the other side and felt the joy of winning.”
Groh also kept the focus on the game and not the officials.
“Two years ago, our guy went up and won the game,” he said. “And today their guy went up and won the game and that’s all that counts.”
It’s the second time this year the Cavaliers came to the state of South Carolina ranked – and the second time they’ll fall out after defeat. Virginia was No. 15 last month when it fell 31-6 to South Carolina. A three-game winning streak and the return of senior quarterback Matt Schaub put them back on the national radar.
Schaub nearly carried Virginia to victory in this one as its league-leading rushing attack faltered with only 53 yards. He threw for 271 yards and two second-half touchdowns as Virginia rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit.
It was Virginia that forced overtime. After Yusef Kelly’s 13-yard touchdown run gave Clemson a 24-17 with 3:20 left, the Cavaliers tied it at 24-all on Pearman’s 1-yard TD run just over a minute later.
The Cavs got the ball a last time in regulation, but Clemson’s Tye Hill intercepted a pass with 5 seconds left.
Whitehurst, who ran for one TD and passed for another, was 27-of-44 for 265 yards. Youngblood had nine catches for 87 yards, and Kelly ran for 88 yards in his first start of the season.
An 11-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller and a 5-yard TD pass to Patrick Estes in the third quarter gave the Cavaliers a 14-10 lead. Then, after Clemson had taken the lead in the fourth quarter, Schaub hit 4 of 5 passes for 40 yards on the tying drive.
Clemson never allowed Virginia’s league-leading ground game to get going. Wali Lundy, who tops the ACC with 102.4 yards per game, managed only 26 yards on 12 first-half carries. Lundy left the game in the third quarter with an injury. Groh said he did not know how seriously Lundy was hurt.
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