Wolfpack cruises past Cavs
Published 8:23 pm Saturday, October 22, 2011
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Mike Glennon threw for three touchdowns and David Amerson intercepted two passes, returning one for a clinching touchdown, as North Carolina State defeated Virginia 28-14 on Saturday.
Glennon now has 19 touchdown passes this season, and Amerson has an FBS-leading and school record-tying eight interceptions.
North Carolina State (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) came into the game off a bye week looking for a second-half season turnaround while Virginia (4-3, 1-2) was trying to avoid a letdown after last week’s upset win over Georgia Tech, which was ranked 12th. Last year, the Cavaliers followed an upset win over a ranked Miami team with four losses to end the season
The loss is a blow to Virginia’s goal of reaching a bowl game in coach Mike London’s second season. Three of the Cavaliers’ final five games are on the road, starting Thursday night at Miami, and they close the season at home against in-state rival Virginia Tech.
The Cavaliers have employed a two-quarterback rotation this season with sophomore Michael Rocco and freshman David Watford, and it was mostly ineffective against the Wolfpack. After Rocco led Virginia on its first touchdown drive, which ended with his 5-yard pass to Clifton Richardson, Watford came in on the Cavaliers’ next possession and promptly threw the first of his three interceptions.
Rocco couldn’t get much going after that, so Watford got most of the work in second half, with mixed results. He briefly gave the Cavaliers hope by throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass to Tim Smith, but two more interceptions followed.
The biggest interception came in the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers trailing 21-14 and backed up deep in their own territory. Watford’s pass was deflected by Smith and grabbed by Amerson, who ran 12 yards and dived into the end zone with 6:08 left.
Any hopes of a Virginia comeback ended on the Cavaliers’ next possession, when Brandan Bishop picked off another Watford pass that bounced off the hands of wideout Kris Burd. Virginia’s defense held, but North Carolina State recovered a muffed punt by Dominique Terrell.
The Cavaliers never got to Glennon, who had been sacked 17 times, but they did intercept him twice.
Virginia also couldn’t muster much against a banged-up North Carolina State defense. The Wolfpack was starting its fourth defensive line combination in six games because of injuries, but Virginia managed only 249 total yards and 124 yards on the ground.
North Carolina State had 345 yards, 231 through the air.
Glennon was 20 of 36 passing, and James Washington had 82 yards on 25 carries for the Wolfpack.
Watford finished 4 of 16 for 89 yards, and Rocco was 7 of 19 for 36 yards for Virginia.
One of the few bright spots for the Cavaliers was special teams play in the first half. Khalek Shepherd returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to midfield, the longest return of the season for the Cavaliers, and Chase Minnifield blocked a field goal.