CHARLOTTESVILLE, NOV. 17 -- Shawn Moore, Virginia's Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, will miss the Cavaliers' regular season finale next week at Virginia Tech after dislocating his right thumb today late in the fourth quarter of Virginia's 35-30 loss to Maryland.
The injury was the nadir of a low day for eighth-ranked Virginia (8-2, 5-2 ACC), which relinquished a 14-point halftime lead for the second time in three weeks in losing its second November game for the first time since 1986.
"I don't think we peaked too soon," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "I knew the month of November would be tough. We didn't play any tough games in the first six except Clemson. If you're good in early October, you ought to be good in the middle of November."
Moore was tackled by freshman linebacker Louis Johnson after scrambling unsuccessfully for a touchdown on fourth down from the Maryland 2-yard line. Moore could not continue and was replaced by backup Matt Blundin on Virginia's final series. Moore completed 12 of 22 passes for 109 yards and had his best rushing performance of the season, carrying the ball 12 times for 69 yards.
Moore left the stadium immediately following the injury for the University of Virginia Medical Center, where team physician Frank McCue performed surgery. Virginia trainer Joe Gieck said Moore can begin throwing in three weeks, and could return for Virginia's New Year's Day bowl appearance.
That apparently still will come in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl, which made an informal agreement with Virginia Sunday following the Cavaliers' victory over North Carolina. Bowl bids cannot be officially extended until Nov. 24, but Sugar Bowl Executive Director Mickey Holmes -- reached at his New Orleans home following today's game -- said his position on Virginia had not changed with the loss and that he still will extend the Cavaliers a bid Saturday in Blacksburg, Va.
Last week, Holmes said that Virginia's offense -- led by the versatile Moore -- was a major consideration in inviting Virginia. Today Holmes said Moore's injury "doesn't change anything."
"They're more than a one-man team," Holmes said. "If they were a one-man team, I doubt if they would have gotten this far."
Virginia had harbored hopes of an undefeated season and a national championship until two weeks ago, when it lost, 41-38, to Georgia Tech, which defeated Wake Forest today to clinch the ACC championship and an automatic bid to the Florida Citrus Bowl. Virginia players pointed this week to the Sugar Bowl berth against the Southeastern Conference as a large consolation for the Georgia Tech loss, but the general mind-set shifted today to one of reluctant acquiescence with the invitation.
"The way we've been playing I wouldn't want to go," defensive end Chris Slade said. "Whoever wins the SEC will blow us out the way we played today."
Virginia, which led Georgia Tech 28-14 at halftime here two weeks ago, took a 21-7 lead over Maryland at the intermission. "Right now, we're a horrible second-half football team," offensive tackle Paul Collins said. "We've had the chances to put games away and we haven't. I'm embarrassed by the effort we showed today. Everyone was just standing around waiting for things to happen out there. This was a collective diseffort."
Moore's injury adds to the growing list of Virginia ailments on offense. Tight end Bruce McGonnigal was lost for the season last month after bruising his spleen in a freak fall and wide recever Herman Moore -- four catches today for 33 yards -- has been hampered by turf toes for three weeks. Starting guard Chris Borsari was lost for the season after breaking a leg in practice last month.
Blundin, who also plays forward for the Virginia basketball team, will start in place of Moore against Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-7 redshirt junior, a 1986 Parade all-American, has attempted eight passes this season, completing seven for 83 yards.
Last season he completed 14 of 34 for 248 yards and two touchdowns.