Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans said he wasn't leaving the field at Scott Stadium on Saturday night unless he was carried off. After his remarkable performance in the Cavaliers' stunning 26-21 upset of No. 4 Florida State, Virginia's students nearly carried him off the field on their shoulders before he made his way through a sea of blue and orange and on to his team's locker room.
Despite playing with a strained right hamstring, the senior from Hampton, Va., completed 27 of 36 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Hagans was sacked three times, but eluded the Seminoles several times with crafty running.
"We couldn't stop number 18," Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden said. "I've never seen a quarterback make as many one-man plays as he made tonight. We couldn't stop that dadgum number 18."
Bowden was so impressed with Hagans that he compared him to former Oklahoma quarterback and ex-congressman J.C. Watts. In the 1980 Orange Bowl, Watts ran 15 times for 127 yards in the Sooners' 24-7 victory over the Seminoles. But Watts threw only four times for 36 yards in that game; Hagans shredded the Seminoles' secondary.
"I've never seen a quarterback beat us with a one-man show," Bowden said. "The last time that's happened to us was Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl -- J.C. Watts. Watts did it for about 30 minutes; this guy did it the whole game."
That Hagans stayed in the game after straining his hamstring with 12 minutes 50 seconds left in the first half was just as remarkable. He came up limping after scrambling for no gain, but stayed in the game for six more plays, leading the Cavaliers to a 13-10 lead on Connor Hughes's 37-yard field goal.
While Hagans lay on his back on the sideline, a trainer elevated his right leg and stretched and massaged his hamstring. He never came out of the game and seemed to get faster in the second half as his hamstring loosened.
"It really did hurt at first," Hagans said. "But once I got to the side and they stretched it and massaged it, my adrenaline kicked in and I was okay. I knew I wasn't coming out of the game. The only way they were getting me out of the game was carrying me out."
Virginia Coach Al Groh, who beat a team ranked in the top 10 for the first time in his five seasons as coach of his alma mater, said he wasn't immediately aware his quarterback was hurt. Backup Christian Olsen, who has thrown only four passes this season and 12 last season, warmed up on the sideline while police and teammates surrounded Hagans.
"I didn't know he was doing that," Groh said, when asked if he saw Hagans getting his leg stretched, "and I'm glad I didn't know he was doing it."
The victory ended Virginia's nine-game losing streak to the Seminoles, who had beaten the Cavaliers by an average of 24 points during Virginia's drought. The win also propelled the Cavaliers back in the Associated Press top 25 at No. 23 and kept alive their hopes of playing in a fourth consecutive bowl game.
At 4-2 going into Saturday's game at North Carolina, the Cavaliers must win two of their last five games to finish with a winning record and qualify for a bowl bid. But only their Nov. 5 home game against Temple qualifies as an easy game.
Virginia plays home games against Georgia Tech and No. 3 Virginia Tech after the Temple game and closes the regular season at No. 6 Miami on Nov. 26.
"It's a good win for us, but it's important for us to remember that each week is its own week, and each game is its own game," Groh said. "We have another challenge coming up next week. If we're not successful with that, then all of a sudden this win will seem very hollow."