Sewell Leads Cavs to Sixth Straight Win

Virginia's Jon Phillips rolls into the end zone with a second quarter touchdown reception from quarterback Jameel Sewell in Virginia's come-from-behind victory over Connecticut.
Virginia's Jon Phillips rolls into the end zone with a second quarter touchdown reception from quarterback Jameel Sewell in Virginia's come-from-behind victory over Connecticut. (Andrew Shurtleff - AP)

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By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 14, 2007

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Oct. 13 -- Jameel Sewell crouched behind center and stared ahead, 11 Connecticut defenders the only thing in his view, possibility the only thing in his mind. What was behind him, the misfires and mistakes he had committed throughout the afternoon, remained there.

Sewell had done this before. "Pelts," Coach Al Groh calls game-winning drives. Sewell collected another Saturday afternoon in Virginia's 17-16 victory over previously undefeated U-Conn., shedding an uneven performance for a few glorious moments to set up Chris Gould's decisive 19-yard field goal with 3 minutes 20 seconds remaining.

The victory, sealed after a pair of mishandled shotgun snaps by the Huskies, gave the Cavaliers their sixth straight win and will likely vault them into the top 25 for the first time since midway through the 2005 season. After beginning the season with a debacle in Wyoming, Virginia (6-1, 3-0 ACC) has improbably made itself one of the hottest teams in the nation and a leading contender for the ACC championship.

The difference in five of those victories has been meager. Aside from a blowout over Pittsburgh, Virginia's average margin of victory is 4.3 points. But Groh believes his team possesses the ingredients to win without overwhelming speed or strength. By finding every imaginable way to lose a year ago, Virginia may have discovered how to win.

"We're not interested in who we're impressing," Groh said. "We're just interested in winning games. . . . We could see we weren't going to be flashy. But if you want to be happy at the end of the game, then we had a chance."

For the second straight game, Sewell overcame previous failure. Last week, after throwing what could have the deciding interception against Middle Tennessee, he led the Cavaliers on a game-winning drive in the final minute.

"It just goes out of my head automatically after I do it," Sewell said. "After 15 seconds or so, it's out of my head. Because I have to bounce back."

Would that have happened last year?

"Being honest," Sewell said, "it probably would have bothered me a whole lot. I've grown a lot."

Saturday, Sewell had thrown for only 98 yards before Virginia took over the ball, fresh off a Connecticut field goal, with 8:06 left in the game. The Cavaliers trailed by two. Sewell had thrown a pair of interceptions. None of that mattered.

"Jameel is Jameel," guard Ian-Yates Cunningham said. "Every snap, every play. When he throws a pick, he stays the same."

He started with a low pass for 14 yards to Jonathan Stupar, who made a diving catch. He lobbed a 30-yarder to wide receiver Chris Gorham next. In all, he completed 3 of 4 passes for 52 yards on the drive, which he punctuated with a six-yard run to the 1.


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