The words conveyed the empathy only kickers can share.

"It could have been me," Rutgers University's Alex Falcinelli told his University of Virginia counterpart, Wayne Morrison, as they walked across the Scott Stadium field following a 19-17 Scarlet Knight victory that ruined a gorgeous indian summer afternoon for the vast majority of the 30,011 Parent's Day spectators.

How well Falcinelli knew. With 3:34 remaining, he had shanked a 33 yard chip shot that could have given his team the lead. Granted a reprieve, he connected on the game winning 41 yarder with 33 seconds remaining, then watched as Morrison missed from 43 yards with eight seconds to go.

When the ball sailed two yards wide to the left, Virginia's two-game winning streak went with it. Now 4-5, the Cavs play North Carolina and Maryland the next two weeks and will be hard pressed to see the .500 level again. Rutgers is 6-3.

"It took a lot of guts for him to come back out and make that one," Morrison said, barely audible, "And it was real nice of him to say that to me. I think I would have done the same for him.

I was more confident than I've ever been. I told the offensive line not to blow it for me. I've been waiting for four years for a chance to do this. When you kick one in the middle of the game you know you'll get another chance. But this was absolutely the last play. I just didn't hit it good. I'm afraid to say it, but I guess I choked."

"I can't possibly criticize him," Coach Dick Bestwick said. "He's really kicked well for us this year and won two games (Navy and Tennessee). We talked about running another play, but we were definitely in his range. He made one from the same distance (one yard farther) last week, and we were confident he could make this one. I didn't want to risk the clock running out."

Virginia took the opening kickoff to the Rutgers 13, then stalled. Morrison's eighth straight field goal, a 30-yarder, put them ahead, 3-0. It was the sophomore's 10th field goal of the year, a school record, and the 19th of his career, tying another.

But sparked by the throwing of quarterback Ed McMichael, the nation's 12th-ranked passer, and the running of Ted Blackwell, Rutgers drove 79 and 59 yards to take a 13-3 lead. The Cavs answered back.

Led by the running and receiving of halfback Tommy Vigorito, who had missed the last two games with a hip pointer, Virginia drove 64 yards, with quarterback Todd Kirtley going the last one for a touchdown. A 33-yard field goal by Falcinelli, who had missed a conversion following the second touchdown, made it 16-10 six seconds before halftime.

There matters stood, until Kirtley pierced the Knight armor with a surprise manuever early in the fourth quarter. His team, pinned deep in its territory most of the day by Deron Cherry's radar-like punting, was struck on its 12. Naturally, the Cavs would play it safe and run.

But Kirtley dropped back and found split end Cole Ega well behind cornerback Dan Errico, expecting a run. Egan took the pass on Rutgers' 40 and went all the way untouched. Morrison's conversion put Virginia ahead, 17-16, with 10:21 left.

"That's a good play, but you've got to pick your spot," Kirtley said.

Nevertheless, Rutgers Coach Frank Burns still thought his team had the game under control.

He wasn't so sure after Falcinelli missed the 33-yarder. He was less certain when the snap on the 41-yarder nearly went over holder Tim ODell's head. But the senior end, who caught seven passes for 107 yards and his team's second touch down, pulled the ball down and gave his kicker a perfect set. Rutgers was penalized 15 yards for having too many players on the field mobbing Falcinelli.

"I didn't like that at all," he said, "especially since we would have to kick from our 25. It's impossible to keep the kids on the bench after a play like that, but they had to make the call."

The 15-yard windfall enabled the Cavs to start on their 40. Kirtley hit Bob Sweeney with a 22-yard pass before Vigorito, who gained 111 yards on 23 carries, ran for 11. His next pass, to Sweeney, was incomplete. One timeout and eight seconds remained.

"The only safe play in that situation is a quick out," Kirtley said, "and even that's somewhat risky because it can always get tipped. We were within Wayne's range, and I wouldn't have wanted him not to get a shot. I agree with the call."

"The other games don't matter," Morrison said sadly. "The only thing that matters is this one."