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Ball State takes advantage of Cavalier miscues and pulls away late in front of a small crowd listed at 38,228.
Ball State running back Jahwan Edwards (32) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown as Virginia safety Brandon Phelps (21) chases during the second half of Saturday's game.
Virginia quarterback David Watford is upended as he places the ball over the goal line to score a touchdown against Ball State on Saturday at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.
Ball State wide receiver Willie Snead (3) hauls in a touchdown pass in front of Virginia cornerback Maurice Canady (26) in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Virginia quarterback David Watford (5) celebrates with a teammate in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The scene at Scott Stadium resembled one of Virginia’s sparsely attended spring games by late afternoon Saturday, except this was for keeps.
Polished and disciplined were words that could be used to describe a Ball State team that won for the fifth time in six games.
Those adjectives did not apply to Virginia.
The Cavaliers, who entered the game as three-point favorites, couldn’t protect an early 10-point lead and fell to the Cardinals 48-27 before a Scott Stadium crowd of 38,228.
It was the second-smallest crowd of the four-year Mike London coaching era, only surpassing a turnout of 37,386 for a 2010 game against one of Ball State’s Mid-America Conference affiliates, Eastern Michigan.
Most of the spectators had left Saturday by the time UVa defensive back Anthony Harris fumbled a punt that marked the Cavaliers’ fourth turnover of the game — an interception and three fumbles.
“Obviously, today we didn’t play well,” London said. “It was embarrassing to have that happen here at home. “
Ball State did not have a turnover and committed only one penalty. Virginia was penalized 13 times for 93 yards.
Two potential UVa touchdowns were nullified by penalty, including a 79-yard hook-up from quarterback David Watford to Tim Smith on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“That’s tough,” UVa offensive guard and co-captain Luke Bowanko said. “You only have so many shots in the play sheet and that was one of them.
“That was designed to score a touchdown and when you have a play like that called back, they’ve seen it, they know it’s coming [and] you can’t really run it again.
“It’s hard to have a play called back because of a penalty that didn’t have any effect on the play. It’s just those little mental errors that set us back all day.”
Virginia (2-3) led 17-7 following a 27-yard touchdown run by Watford on the second play of the second quarter, but got outscored 41-10 the rest of the way.
Last week, many had hailed Virginia’s defense after it held Pittsburgh to 199 yards in a 14-3 Cavaliers’ loss.
Somewhere on the way back from Heinz Field, the UVa defense lost its way, giving up 506 yards to the Cardinals, who were led by senior quarterback Keith Wenning, who was 23 of 41 for 346 yards and two touchdowns.
A bigger surprise for Ball State was halfback Jahwan Edwards, who carried 24 times for 155 yards and three TDs. Edwards had rushed for a total of 219 yards in the Cardinals’ first five games.
Virginia finished with 459 yards, its high against FBS opposition this year, and was very much in the game as the teams went into halftime tied 17-17.
The Cavaliers caused Ball State to punt on the first series of the second half, taking possession at their 12. On second down, Kevin Parks broke loose for a 32-yard run, only to fumble as he was going to the ground.
Ball State’s recovery was confirmed and the Cardinals needed only six plays to score the go-ahead touchdown, but UVa responded with an 11-play, 85-yard drive that made it 24-24 with 7:09 left in the third.
Three third-quarter UVa turnovers led to 17 Ball State points but Virginia continued to hang around, cutting the deficit to 34-27 on a 38-yard Alec Vozenilek field goal with 10:41 left.
The Cavaliers’ hopes were short-lived, however. On the second play after the ensuing kickoff, Wenning connected with Jordan Williams, who left UVa cornerback Maurice Canady in his dust en route to a 72-yard touchdown reception.
“It was an explosive play; it led to points,” London said. “But, if that does happen, you have to be resilient. We didn’t do a very good job of bouncing back today.”
Virginia came into the game tied for 108th out of 123 FBS teams in turnover margin but they had not been penalized more than 50 yards in any of their first four games.
“I can count probably three or four that extended [a Ball State] drive,” London said. “I don’t know how many led to scores. We just didn’t play very smart today. We’ll look at who the offenders are and obviously that matters.”
At one point in the third quarter, defensive tackle Brent Urban appeared to have wrapped up a Ball State ball-carrier for a 3-yard loss, only to have teammate Eli Harold called for a personal foul on the same play.
“It’s another penalty about not being smart,” said London, who removed Harold from the game. “It was a dumb penalty and you’ve got to do better. People are out there trying to win games, but you’ve got to have poise. Those things are egregious and you can’t put up with that.”
In an environment that saw college head coaches Lane Kiffin and Paul Pasqualoni lose their jobs last weekend, London was asked about his frame of mind going forward.
“My goal is to make sure we do everything we need to do,” London said. “The players come to play. When they don’t play as well as we need to, this is the result of it, [but] they’re not quitting in that locker room in there.”
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