Peerman, Cavs run past ECU

Published 4:07 am Sunday, October 12, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Cedric Peerman rushed for 172 yards and two first half touchdowns and Mark Verica threw for 216 yards and a score as Virginia avoided a second half comeback attempt by East Carolina to escape with a 35-20 victory at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon.
After starting the season with three straight wins, the Pirates have now lost three contests in a row.
Peerman scored on runs of 79 and 60 yards in a five-minute span and Verica hooked up with Kevin Olgetree on a 30-yard touchdown connection, as the Cavaliers exploited the Pirates with big play after big play in the first half, scoring 28 unanswered points to build a 28-6 halftime lead.
East Carolina built a 6-0 lead on a pair of Ben Hartman first quarter field goals before Virginia began its scoring barrage.
On the final play of the opening quarter, Peerman tip-toed down the right sideline and outraced the Pirates defense for a 79-yard scoring run, giving the Cavaliers a 7-6 lead after 15 minutes of play.
In the early minutes of the second quarter, Peerman demonstrated his big-play ability once again as he took a handoff off tackle and sprinted down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown scamper to make it 14-6 in favor of the Cavs.
UVA added to its lead with 5:51 remaining in the half as reserve running back Mikell Simpson got into the scoring act, dashing in for a five-yard touchdown scamper.
The Cavs built a three touchdown lead late in the opening half as Verica connected with Kevin Olgetree on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 left to put Virginia ahead 28-6 at the half.
East Carolina finally managed to punch one across the goal line on the opening drive of second half as they strung together a 10-play, 41-yard drive that ended with Jonathan Williams taking a pitch from Pinkney and darting into the end zone from one-yard out, cutting the deficit to 28-13 with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Pirates cut even further into the Cavs’ lead as Pinkney connected with Brandon Simmons on a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-20 with 13:58 left in the contest.
The Pirates got the ball back in the final 10 minutes with an opportunity to tie the ball game after their defense came up with a fourth down stop at the Virginia 34-yard line. But on ECU’s first play from scrimmage, Pinkney tried to evade the rush, and was drilled from behind by defensive end Matt Conrath, causing a fumble.
The Cavs’ pounced on the ball at the ECU 24-yard line, and four plays later the Cavaliers put the game away as the Virginia coaching staff went into its bag of tricks and pulled out a fake field goal. As the field goal unit ran onto the field, Virginia tight end John Phillips jogged off towards the sideline. But before hitting the sidelines, Phillips stopped and the Pirates didn’t take notice. On the snap, holder Scott Deke stood and fired a pass to a wide-open Phillips for a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Virginia (3-3) applied heavy pressure all afternoon and forced East Carolina quarterback Patrick Pinkney to have a rough outing as he was sacked six times and completed just 12-of-28 passes for 196 yards.
A couple of bright notes for the Pirates were the play of Jonathan Williams and Dwayne Harris who both had career days.
Williams, making his first career start, ran for a career-best 95 yards, while Harris caught six passes for a career-high 128 yards.
Defensively, ECU continued to struggle, giving up 430 yards. They also allowed more than 30 points for a third straight game.
The Pirates (3-3) will look to get back in the win column next weekend when they resume Conference USA play against Memphis at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.