TOBIN: I’m tired of leaving Scott Stadium early
Last season, six of Virginia’s seven home games were decided by 10 points or fewer. Although the team lost every game on the road and three of these seven games at home, most contests went down to the wire — giving the Cavalier faithful something to watch until the final whistle blew.
This season, the opposite has been the case. At least two touchdowns have separated the Cavaliers from their opponents in their three home losses. There has been no reason to stay for the whole game because simply, there has been no reason to believe that the team could come back.
Take this past Saturday against North Carolina, for example. Virginia’s offense had shown hardly any life in the first half, and a Tar Heel touchdown with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter left Virginia down 21-7. The Cavaliers’ had a less-than-ideal response — losing the ball on a fumble.
It was at this point — 3:42 remaining in the third quarter — when I decided to leave. Simply put, I thought that it would be pointless to stay. Why should I watch an eventual 35-14 trainwreck loss when I could be doing something better with my time?
I wish I could say this was a one-time thing. But I made the same decision the week prior, too. When Pittsburgh scored a touchdown to take a 42-28 lead over Virginia with 9:47 left in the game, I had that same sense of hopelessness — there was no chance that the Cavaliers would muster two touchdowns in the time remaining. Thus, like the following week, I had an early departure from Scott Stadium.
To be clear — I am an eternal optimist, and I always look for reasons to believe in Virginia football. But these past few weeks have just been depressing.
The odd thing is, if you asked most Cavalier fans their thoughts on last season at the end of last season, I think they would use the same word: depressing.
Yet, I am now realizing how good we had it. Though we were losing, at least we were losing in exciting, albeit heartbreaking, fashion.
The freshest memory in my mind that exemplifies this down-to-the-wire contest was the Cavaliers’ 34-27 home-opening loss against then-No. 9 Notre Dame. As a first year, this game was my first as a student at the University. The stadium was packed, and it stayed that way until the end of the game.
When Virginia scored on a one-yard Albert Reid run to take a 27-26 lead with 1:54 left in the game, the stadium had erupted. Even my then-resident advisor, who was pessimistic given the rough performance by the team in the 2014 season, could not help but be excited.
Of course, everyone remembers what happened next. Driving down the field, Notre Dame scored a touchdown right in front of the fans on the hill that were eagerly hoping to rush the field. Taking a 34-27 lead with only 12 seconds left in the game, the Fighting Irish erased any hope the Cavaliers had, and “Sad Virginia Fan” immediately became immortalized as an Internet sensation.
Even though the loss was heartbreaking to Notre Dame, Virginia at least gave its fans a reason to stay until the end of the game. In fact, with the exception of a 56-14 blowout at the hands of Boise State, the Cavaliers consistently provided entertaining football in Scott Stadium throughout the 2015 season. Whether it was a triple overtime victory against Syracuse or a three-point loss sealed by an interception to Virginia Tech, something always kept me in the bleachers. I never left Scott Stadium early.
As my colleague Jake Blank noted earlier this week, Virginia’s performance at home “has driven fans away.” While I consider myself a big fan of this team and will continue to cheer it on, I refuse to stay for the whole game if I have no reason to believe the Cavaliers can win. I’m tired of leaving Scott Stadium early.
Ben Tobin is a weekly sports columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TobinBen.