CHARLOTTESVILLE, OCT. 3 -- Even without tailback Kevin Morgan and wide receiver John Ford, Virginia rolled to a 30-0 victory over Division I-AA VMI behind a rejuvenated defense and the running of freshman Marcus Wilson.
It was the third straight victory for Virginia (3-2). VMI (2-2) never penetrated Cavaliers territory.
Wilson carried 34 times for 129 yards in place of Morgan (knee injury) and quarterback Scott Secules completed 17 of 23 passes for 229 yards, turning to Keith Mattioli (eight catches, 137 yards) with Ford sidelined by a hamstring pull.
But the Cavaliers defense bulled its way to center stage. The much-maligned unit, which surrendered more than 400 yards and 28 points per game last season, has put together four consecutive strong showings and held VMI to 161 total yards in recording Virginia's first shutout since midway through the 1984 season.
"We were nonexistent offensively, just atrocious," Keydets Coach Eddie Williamson said. VMI quarterback Dave Brown connected on just nine of 24 throws and tailback Joe France picked up 19 yards on seven carries.
Without big-play guns Morgan and Ford, Virginia relied on its defense and a conservative offense led by Wilson to take a 17-0 halftime lead.
"I was not happy with our offense," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "We stumbled too much and I don't think we got the execution that we should have. But we played well enough on defense to overcome that. They never got close, did they?"
Virginia's first possession began at the Keydets 28 after a 20-yard punt return by Tim Finkelston, and the Cavaliers immediately went to Wilson.
The tailback carried four times for 20 yards to bring the ball to the 7-yard line, but tackle Dan Young stopped Secules on a third-down keeper and Virginia settled for a 24-yard field goal by Mark Inderlied.
Virginia opened up the offense a bit on its next possession to take a 10-0 lead. Secules, who entered the game the ACC's highest-rated passer, completed four of five passes as the Cavaliers moved 68 yards in 10 plays, capped by Wilson's four-yard run. Secules hit Mattioli for 18 yards on third and 10 from midfield and tight end Bruce McGonnigal for 10 yards to move to the VMI 17.
The Cavaliers mixed the run and pass well again on a 16-play, 79-yard drive that used up more than eight minutes of the second quarter. Secules twice delivered third-down completions, including a rifle shot to Mattioli at the Keydets 36 with defensive end Robert Susnar draped all over him. Wilson again finished the drive, carrying behind center Trevor Ryals, another offensive sub, for a one-yard touchdown.
Virginia could have added to that lead before intermission. Keydets punter Monty Craft fumbled a snap and the ball was downed at the VMI 28. But Cavaliers freshman quarterback Shawn Moore was intercepted by Chris Clark three plays later.
Mattioli was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for throwing the ball into Clark's face after a first-down catch at the VMI 40, effectively stalling Virginia's final drive of the half. Inderlied kicked two field goals as the Cavaliers maintained control in the third quarter.
VMI 0 0 0 0 0 Virginia 10 7 6 7 30
V -- Inderlied FG 24
V -- Wilson 4 run (Inderlied kick)
V -- Wilson 1 run (Inderlied kick)
V -- FG Inderlied 29
V -- FG Inderlied 47
V -- Secules 7 run (Inderlied kick)
A -- 23,500 VMI Virginia First downs 10 23 Rushes-yards 30-73 58-219 Passing yards 88 229 Return yards 00 50 Passing 9-24-2 17-25-2 Punts-average 9-35 1-36 Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0 Penalties-yards 7-66 8-69 Time
RUSHING -- VMI: Brown 11-27, France 7-16, Parrott 6-24, Craft 1-minus 13, Johnson 5-19. Virginia: Secules 9
PASSING -- VMI: Brown 9-24-2, 88 yards. Virginia: Secules 17-23-0, 229, Moore 0-2-2, 0.
RECEIVING -- VMI: Williams 2-18, Parrott 1-19, Roenker 1-18, France 1-8, McGrew 1-6, Johnson 2-9, Wright 1-