Oct. 15, 2005
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Bobby Bowden has seen a lot in 40 years of coaching, from Heisman Trophy winners to the wonder of Michael Vick in a national championship.
But he’s never seen anything that topped what Marques Hagans did to the fourth-ranked Seminoles on Saturday night, dodging pass rushers all night long, and often finding a receiver and firing a laser into his arms while running for his life.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback make as many one-man plays as he made tonight,” Bowden said after Hagans led Virginia to a 26-21 victory against the Seminoles.
“We couldn’t stop that dadgum No. 18,” Bowden said.
Hagans threw for a career-best 306 yards and two touchdowns and Connor Hughes kicked four field goals for the Cavaliers (4-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who reprised history and beat a top-5 team for only the second time in their history.
The other was Florida State, too, 10 years ago.
This one, though, was particularly sweet for the Cavaliers, coming as they were off back-to-back double-digit road losses at Maryland and Boston College.
“I’m tired,” said Hagans, who connected on 27 of 36 passes. “But the win was so big. We had lost two in a row and the season was on the line.”
Like their victory in 1995, which ended with Warrick Dunn stopped inches from the goal line on the final play to preserve a 33-28 victory, this one went to the wire, too, sealed by Tony Franklin’s interception of Drew Weatherford with 50 seconds left.
“It was real tense,” said All-ACC linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who played for only the second time this season after knee surgery. “We just needed someone to make a play.”
Franklin’s interception was the third of the night for Virginia.
“It’s a great feeling,” the senior, one of four captains, said. “Take it back to high school when I won the state championship. It’s on that level.”
Leading 26-10 entering the final quarter, the Cavaliers led only 26-21 when they stopped the Seminoles (5-1, 3-1) near midfield with 3 1/2 minutes to go.
Hagans then ran for 6 yards before Florida State’s Tony Carter was called for pass interference on third down, giving Virginia a badly needed first down.
After Hagans came up a yard short on the next third-and-7 run, the Cavaliers punted and Florida State got one last chance from its own 26 with 56 seconds left.
Weatherford threw deep downfield, but Franklin was inside the receiver and made the catch. Two downings of the ball brought thousands of students out onto the field.
“It’s huge,” said Hughes, who stretched his string of field goals made to 10 with kicks of 50, 37, 35 and 45 yards. “I feel like we finally broke through. We really held on and showed some guts today at the end of the game, and that’s something we really needed to prove not only to ourselves, but I feel like everybody around us.”
Florida State, with Weatherford looking less like a freshman as the game got more tense, had rallied behind his 22-yard touchdown pass to Chris Davis and a 32-yard field goal from Gary Cismesia, a drive when Virginia held at its own 15-yard line.
Weatherford finished 35-for-59 for 377 yards.
Florida State lost because it had no answer for Hagans, who used his speed to get away from defenders all night, repeatedly buying time and completing passes on the run. Virginia finished with only 20 yards rushing on 28 attempts, and Hagans officially carried nine times for minus 4 yards, but he clearly frustrated the Seminoles.
“You could hear them talking whenever you scoot out of the pocket or a possible sack,” he said of the defenders, who are accustomed to running down quarterbacks.
But it almost was for naught when the Seminoles rallied.
First, Weatherford covered 47 yards in two plays – a 25-yard pass to Willie Reid and a dump off that Davis took down the right sideline for a touchdown. Down 10, Weatherford also calmly hit 6-foot-6 Greg Carr for the 2-point conversion.
After Virginia failed to get a first down for the second series in a row, the Seminoles drove 73 yards in 11 plays, ending with Cismesia’s 32-yard field goal.
But then Hagans made a few more plays to kill clock, and Franklin finished it.
“I don’t have a lot to say,” Bowden said. “All I want to say, you can’t print.”
The Cavaliers led 23-10 at halftime, getting their second touchdown with 19 seconds left when Hagans was flushed from the pocket, scrambled right and hit Wali Lundy, who dodged several defenders and made a final lunge to get the ball into the end zone.
Virginia also intercepted two passes, one by Marcus Hamilton to halt the Seminoles’ opening drive at the Virginia 34, and one to start a 74-yard drive that ended with Hagans’ 21-yard pass to Jonathan Stupar in the right corner of the end zone.
On the play before, Hagans made an even better throw on the run, a third-and-16 past that somehow got past a Seminoles defender to Emmanuel Byers for a 28-yard gain.
The second interception, by Chris Gorham at the Seminoles 36, led to Hughes’ third field goal, a 35-yarder that gave the Cavaliers a 16-10 lead 1:29 before halftime.