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Cavaliers topple Terrapins, 31-23

Despite losing quarterback Dan Ellis to an injury near the end of the first half, Virginia held off a persistent Maryland squad for a 31-23 victory Saturday at Scott Stadium.

Virginia stuck to the usual game plan this week: strike early and often and hope the defense hangs on.

The offense scored a season-high 28 points in the first half, including three rushing touchdowns by junior running back Tyree Foreman. It was the most touchdowns in a half scored by a Cavalier back since Tiki Barber's three touchdowns against Texas in 1996.

Ellis left the game with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining in the half after throwing an interception to Terrapin free safety Shawn Forte at the Maryland 31-yard line. While pursuing Forte, Ellis pulled up lame with a strained hamstring and Forte went 69 yards untouched for Maryland's first touchdown of the game. The score cut the Virginia lead to 28-10 at the half.

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    "I don't think I've ever seen one play change the complexion of a game as much as that reception," Virginia coach George Welsh said. "A win like that showed the team has a lot of courage."

    Thanks to an upcoming bye week for the Cavs, Ellis said he is confident his hamstring will be fully healed in two weeks.

    "I'll be playing against Florida State, no matter what," Ellis said after the game. "If I have to hobble out there with my crutches, I'll be playing."

    The third quarter was filled with sloppy play by both offenses. The Terps and the Cavs traded punts and turnovers on the first six drives of the half.

    Antwoine Womack, who quietly earned his third 100-yard rushing day of the year, fumbled at the Virginia 24-yard line and Maryland recovered with 6:12 left in the third. It was the first fumble lost by the Cavaliers this season.

    Virginia 31 - Maryland 23
    Cavalier Daily Box Score
     

    However, Maryland could not convert against a stingy Cavs defense. Two plays after the fumble, Virginia's pass rush forced Terps quarterback Calvin McCall to throw an errant pass that was intercepted by cornerback Ahmad Hawkins at the Cavaliers 11-yard line.

    Redshirt freshman Bryson Spinner started the second half for the injured Ellis, but had little success sparking the Virginia offense. Following the Hawkins interception, Spinner gained a first down rushing but then threw an interception to Terps cornerback Tony Okanlawon.

    That interception set up Maryland's first touchdown of the second half, a 61-yard screen pass from McCall to Matt Kalapinski.

    The Cavs scored once more in the fourth on a 48-yard field goal by David Greene, which tied his longest kick of the season. The other backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Matt Schaub, replaced Spinner in the fourth quarter and led the Cavaliers on the nine-play, 49-yard drive that set up Greene's field goal.

    Maryland's final score came on an 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from McCall to wide receiver Jason Hatala to pull within eight. But the Virginia offensive line took over and allowed the running game to gain four first downs on the final drive, including a 31-yard run and a three-yard run on fourth and one by Foreman that secured the win.

    "That last drive was a big league effort by the offensive line and by the backs," Welsh said.

    The Virginia defense played well during the whole game, except for a few missed tackles on the Kalapinski touchdown. The Cavs held the Terrapins' slumping Heisman candidate LaMont Jordan to 76 yards on 20 carries, though he did leave the game twice with injuries.

    Linebacker Yubrenal Isabelle led the defense in tackles for the second week with nine. Linebacker Byron Thweatt had four tackles and a first quarter interception that set up a 36-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to wide receiver Tavon Mason that put the Cavs up 21-0.

    Mason, Foreman and wide receiver James Johnson are originally from Maryland, which made their efforts, and the win, even more special.

    "It feels good to have a good showing against your home state," Foreman said. "Me and Tavon and J.J. have been talking about it on offense. The guys from Maryland just seem to step it up a notch when we go against Maryland. It's something personal"

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