Cavaliers make too many errors against Demon Deacons
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia is heading into an open week in the worst way possible -- reeling after another loss.
Josh Harris ran for a touchdown and Chad Hedlund kicked three field goals Saturday as Wake Forest beat the mistake-prone Cavaliers 16-10, handing coach Mike London's team its sixth consecutive loss.
Virginia limited Wake Forest to 213 yards of offense and seven pass completions but lost because it turned the ball over three times, continued to allow big special teams plays and had inopportune penalties.
"That losing taste lingers in your mouth for a while, and the only way you can get rid of it is to play another game," London said. The losing streak is the longest since Al Groh's last season as coach in 2009.
"Obviously we won't play for a while, but you can go back and do things while you wait. We can dedicate time toward improving our fundamentals in blocking, throwing, catching and all those things," London said. "It's not going to be about the schemes of who we're getting ready to play but taking care of ourselves and eliminating some of the things that we do that continue to keep costing us."
The Demon Deacons (4-3, 2-3 ACC), coming off their own open week that allowed several players to get healthy, came in allowing more than 206 rushing yards and 31 points but limited the Cavaliers to 48 yards on 32 carries. They also stymied a late drive by Virginia (2-6, 0-4) with a 6-yard loss on second down and an 11-yard sack of Phillips Sims after Virginia got to the 36 yard-line.
On its previous drive, Virginia reached the Wake Forest 34 and faced second-and-1 when Sims, making his third consecutive start, tried to float a pass to 5-foot-11 wide receiver Darius Jennings near the end zone. Instead, Demon Deacons 6-1 cornerback Kevin Johnson got inside position on the throw and intercepted, ending the possession. Johnson also recovered a fumble earlier.
"I kind of got hit, so it took a little bit off the throw," Sims said of the interception, Virginia's second of three turnovers. "I have to make a better decision like that in the red zone."
The final straw came with 1:59 left when Virginia forced a punt and the ball hit returner Khalek Shepherd near the shoulders and bounced away. The Demon Deacons recovered essentially to finish it.
"You would like to think that as a team you are learning from your mistakes the previous weeks," Sims said after finishing 22-for-39 for 253 yards and one touchdown. "But for the little things that keep creeping up, it is just something that we need to hone in on and practice in the off week."
The Demon Deacons went ahead 16-7 with more help as Virginia got called for an illegal block in the back on a punt when Wake Forest punted on fourth-and-11 from the Virginia 38. The Deacons went for it on fourth-and-1, and Price made it. Six plays later, Hedlund kicked his third field goal, a 24-yarder.
Virginia answered quickly, driving 62 yards in eight plays. Sims started the drive with a 31-yard pass to Jake McGee, but the drive stalled at the Wake Forest 13. Ian Frye kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Wake Forest led 10-7 at halftime, and Hedlund's 44-yard field goal made it 13-7 in the third.
The Demon Deacons scored on their first offensive play of the game. After forcing Virginia to punt, Lovell Jackson returned it 60 yards. On the next play, Harris went right for the 16-yard touchdown.
Almost the rest of the half was a punting contest, except for one Cavaliers drive that reached the Wake Forest 26. From there, Frye tried a 44-yard field goal, but the kick sailed wide right.
Virginia finally got something going late in the half, almost all of it through the air. Sims completed seven passes on the drive, converting on third down three times, and hit former Oscar Smith High School teammate Tim Smith on a slant from 13 yards. Smith beat the defense to the right pylon.
Only 20 seconds remained in the half, but the Demon Deacons made another special teams play as Chibulkem Okoro returned the short kick 20 yards to the 40. A personal foul on Kyle McCartin for tackling Okoro out of bounds moved it to the Virginia 45. Price hit 6-5 Brandon Terry in one-on-one coverage for 41 yards, and Hedlund's 22-yard field goal made it 10-7 at halftime.
Wake Forest's scoring drives in the half took six seconds and 17 seconds.