Wahoos Down Terps to Become Bowl-Eligible
When Mike London was hired as Virginia’s head football coach in December 2009, the general consensus around the program was that he would need four years to turn things around. London had different plans, and in just his second year on the job the ‘Hoos are going bowling.
Led by a well-balanced offensive attack, Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC) defeated rival Maryland (2-7, 1-5 ACC) by a score of 31-13 on Saturday, marking their fourth victory in the last five games and cementing their bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2007. Virginia wasted no time in establishing the running game, scoring on a 47-yard touchdown from RB Perry Jones on the first play from scrimmage. Jones, who rushed for 100 yards in the first half alone, added another score in the third quarter, taking in a 1-yard run on a pivotal fourth-down opportunity.
Complementing Jones and the Wahoo running game was second-year QB Michael Rocco, playing just his second game of the season as the undisputed man behind center. Passing for two touchdowns, Rocco threw for 307 yards on the game, marking the first time he has reached the three-century plateau in his collegiate career.
What may have been more impressive about Rocco’s performance, however, was his pocket presence and field vision. On several occasions, Rocco showed that his maturation process is in full swing, choosing to tuck the ball and run for a gain. In previous games, critics argued that the young signal caller often forced passes into double coverage, which often led to interceptions.
Unlike their counterpart, Maryland’s quarterback duo showed that there is still reason to be worried in College Park. While sophomore Danny O’Brien got the nod on nearly 85% of the Terps’ passing attempts, he connected on just 44% of them, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble in the fourth quarter. Backup C.J. Moore also threw for an interception in his time on the field. All three of Maryland’s turnovers through the air came at the hands of Virginia S Rodney McLeod, who became just the seventh player in school history to record three interceptions in a single game. The last Wahoo to accomplish that was Anthony Poindexter, now special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach at his alma mater.
Virginia returns home on Saturday to take on ACC foe Duke on what is set to be a 3:00 PM kickoff at Scott Stadium. The Wahoos, who are still statistically in play for a Coastal Division title, will be looking to beat the Blue Devils for the first time in four years.
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