Virginia football 'killed' by penalties in loss to Maryland

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 13, 2010; 11:58 PM

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Despite being charged with nine penalties for 71 yards in the first half, Virginia trailed Maryland by just one point entering halftime after a 52-yard field goal by Chris Hinkebein. Cavaliers Coach Mike London believed at that point his team had wrestled back momentum from the Terrapins and was poised to strike immediately in the third quarter, when Virginia would receive the ball first.

But the opening kickoff of the second half yielded the same conclusion as 15 other Virginia snaps Saturday at Scott Stadium: with a penalty flag on the ground and a call going against the Cavaliers.

Virginia lost to Maryland, 42-23, because its defense could not contain the Terrapins' passing attack and because its offense combined early inefficiency with late turnovers. But the Cavaliers (4-6, 1-5 ACC) didn't help their cause by tallying 16 penalties - one shy of the program record - for 145 yards. In Virginia's past three games, it has committed 38 penalties for 353 yards.

And the damage could have been worse against Maryland (7-3, 4-2), which declined two other penalties called against the Cavaliers and offset yet another Virginia infraction with one of its own.

"It killed us," senior linebacker Darnell Carter said. "I really don't understand how - I know it was an emotional game, but penalties killed [us]. . . . You can't win a ballgame with 16 penalties."

Accumulating massive amounts of penalties has become a disturbing trend for Virginia. London said he and his assistants need to be held more accountable for the techniques they teach during practice.

But the issue is broader than that. Late in the third quarter, Carter got his hands on a Maryland pass attempt, but the ball sailed through his fingers and into the arms of a Terrapins receiver for a 26-yard gain into Virginia territory.

"It hits your hands, you've got to catch it," Carter said.

Virginia's offense has demonstrated considerable progress in recent weeks, and it moved the ball fairly efficiently against Maryland. And yet at least a half-dozen catchable balls were dropped in the first half Saturday.

"Just lack of focus," junior wide receiver Kris Burd said. "Just kind of getting lazy on catching the ball.

Virginia registered 382 total yards, and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said he felt the Cavaliers moved the ball well.

"I've just got to look at if I did a good enough job of preparing them and just being focused enough," Lazor said. "Because when you have the penalties, and I think we dropped a couple balls, those things hurt us and probably stopped us from getting some touchdowns on those early drives."

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