Virginia guaranteed itself a winning season with a 24-22 victory over North Carolina today, playing without starting quarterback Don Majkowski. He was suspended from the team Friday morning for a team rule violation.
Virginia Coach George Welsh said Majkowski had broken a team rule, but he wouldn't specify which rule.
Majkowski, who watched the game in street clothes and didn't go into the locker room afterward, said, "I don't want to talk about it."
Jim Dombrowski, the Cavaliers' two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference offensive tackle, said, "He had one beer in his hand. Public drinking is definitely a no-no on this team, and one of the coaches saw him. But he had a friend in town. It wasn't real smart, but it was understandable."
In his place, sophomore Scott Secules led the Cavaliers, and though he was a bit rough around the edges, he did make several big plays, including two touchdown passes to split end Gino Zimmerlink.
Secules, making his first collegiate start, completed eight of 14 passes for 106 yards, with one interception. His second touchdown pass to Zimmerlink, a 40-yarder with 6:40 left in the third quarter, put Virginia ahead to stay, 17-16.
On the first play of the Tar Heels' next drive, Cavaliers linebacker Charles McDaniel caused a fumble by running back William Humes, and three plays later, Barry Word scored from eight yards for a 24-16 lead with 5:18 left in the third period.
Word had with 170 yards on 33 carries, giving him 1,224 for the season, a Virginia record. The Tar Heels (5-5, 3-3) weren't finished, though.
Quarterback Kevin Anthony, who replaced Jonathan Hall in the fourth quarter, had a third and five from the Virginia 31 with 9:33 to go when he threw a deep pass toward the goal line. It seemed as if the day's steady rain had dumped another inch of water on the crowd before the ball came down in the hands of flanker Earl Winfield, who stepped in front of Virginia cornerback David Cardenas, then stepped around the other cornerback, Curtis Turner, into the end zone.
That left North Carolina down, 24-22, and thoughts of last year's 24-24 tie in Chapel Hill came to mind. The Tar Heels went for two, but a perfectly timed hit by Cavaliers safety Kevin Ferguson -- a converted quarterback -- broke up Anthony's conversion pass to William Humes.
North Carolina had the ball two more times, but the Tar Heels were forced to punt and to turn the ball over on downs and never threatened again.
"We made some dumb mistakes," Welsh said. "But we played good football and we had to in order to win. We were gutsy."
Virginia (6-4, 4-2) has two weeks to prepare for its last game against Maryland in College Park. That also gives Welsh time to decide what to do about Majkowski, who has one more year to play.
"I'll meet with him this week," Welsh said, adding that Majkowski's infraction was "one of those things that warranted that kind of action."
Of Secules, Welsh said: "He played better than I thought he was gonna play. He played better than he practiced. The only thing we didn't do as much of (as Majkowski might have) is run the option, but we left everything else in."
Asked whether Majkowski would have his job if or when he returns, Welsh said, "If he does come back, he won't automatically come back and be a starter."
Secules, from Centreville, Va., said he started getting nervous about 2 p.m. Friday, when he was told he would start. The butterflies finally left after the first series.
"I didn't sleep all that great," Secules said. "I was excited. I tried not to think about it too much, and just relax and do the job. But then the job of a back-up quarterback is to be ready when they need you."
Howard Petty, who played fullback for the second straight week while Word played tailback, is Majkowski's roommate and was one of the first to hear of the suspension. Petty said he, Word, and the captains -- Antonio Rice, Dombrowski and McDaniel -- went to talk with Welsh Friday to plead Majkowski's case.
"Don is one of the role models for this team on the field, as well as off," said Petty. "It could have happened to anyone. The team is behind him 100 percent and we went to see if there was anything that could be done. We felt the punishment was too stiff."