Last year, kicker Todd Braverman was known more for the kicks he missed than the ones he made. If Saturday's opener against North Carolina was any indication, things might be different for Braverman in 1999.
After failing to convert on pivotal field goals against both Georgia and Georgia Tech last season, Braverman nailed a 50-yard, game-winning field goal to lift Virginia to a 20-17 defeat of North Carolina.
"Everybody was questioning me" after last year, Braverman said. "I wanted to show I could make it."
Still, even Braverman couldn't bear to look following his kick.
"I knew it was good when I didn't see the coaching staff throwing their hats on the field," he said.
The dramatic field goal put the exclamation point on a wild opener between the Cavs and Tar Heels.
Virginia and Carolina traded field goals in the first half to leave the score tied at three. But then, at the close of the first half, Heel cornerback Antwan Black intercepted a pass and ran it back 89 yards for the touchdown.
The Cavs responded with back-to-back scores in the second half, on a one-yard touchdown run by Thomas Jones and a 32-yard pass from Dan Ellis to Kevin Coffey.
But Carolina quarterback Ron Curry, who verbally committed to play for the Cavs before changing his mind and signing with the Heels, rallied the his team. On a busted play, Curry escaped two onrushing defenders and threw a strike into the endzone for a touchdown. Curry then connected on the two-point conversion to deadlock the score.
After the victory, some of the players said they were pleased that Braverman had redeemed himself.
"Hopefully now [everybody] will all just shut up and leave him be," defensive end Travis Griffith said. "He's a great kicker and he showed it today."
"I had full faith in Todd that he could make that kick, but it's sweet redemption for him knowing he was about six inches away from winning the two games last year and this time he's about a yard over the bar," quarterback Dan Ellis said.