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U-Va. football game vs. Coastal Carolina canceled after three players killed

Flowers have been placed around Scott Stadium in Charlottesville after three University of Virginia football players were killed Nov. 13. (Justin Ide for The Washington Post)
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The Virginia football team’s game Saturday against Coastal Carolina at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville was canceled, the school’s athletic department announced Wednesday morning.

The decision came less than three days after three Cavaliers players were fatally shot and two other students, including one player, were wounded when a gunman opened fire Sunday night on a charter bus at a campus garage.

It remains unclear whether Virginia will play its final game of the season against Virginia Tech on Nov. 26 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, the annual showdown for the Commonwealth Cup.

How a U-Va. class trip ended in gunfire and death: ‘Get off the bus!’

The Cavaliers last played Nov. 12, a 37-7 loss at Pittsburgh the afternoon before the shooting that claimed the lives of Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, both junior wide receivers, as well as D’Sean Perry, a junior linebacker.

“At this point, with the sequence of events and the timing, I just have been focusing on loving these players, consoling the families, trying to make sure that there’s no ripple effect with the guys on the team,” Virginia Coach Tony Elliott said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Charlottesville. “Because, again, this is something that nobody is prepared to deal with until you’re inside of it.”

The game against Coastal Carolina was a rare late-season nonconference game and had little impact on the standings.

“Our program is heartbroken for the University of Virginia, the victims’ families, loved ones, friends, and the entire community of Charlottesville,” Coastal Carolina Coach Jamey Chadwell said in a statement. “While our football team was looking forward to competing against the University of Virginia, we support their decision not to play.”

Virginia Coach Tony Elliott and Athletic Director Carla Williams spoke to the press about the three football players who were killed on Nov. 13. (Video: The Washington Post)

Elliott and Athletic Director Carla Williams have spent the majority of their time since the shooting meeting with players, speaking with the families of those killed and assisting in the next steps in terms of plans and logistics for memorial services.

No announcements have been issued regarding funeral arrangements in the wake of the tragedy that rocked the community and left many unanswered questions as to the motives of the accused shooter, who had been a football walk-on for one semester in 2018, according to Williams.

Williams also indicated there was no football overlap between the suspect in custody and the players who were killed. They were all on a bus carrying approximately 20 students who were returning to campus from a school trip to Washington, where they attended a play and dined together.

“I mean, it’s so tragic, and I think everyone can really place themselves in our shoes,” Williams said Tuesday while sitting next to Elliott in the media work room at John Paul Jones Arena. “Coaches can place themselves in [Elliott’s] shoes. Athletic directors, administrators can do the same with me. People have been reaching out to us, and I think that’s helpful to all of us.”

Among the coaches offering support and condolences was Robert Anae. The Syracuse offensive coordinator served in the same capacity at Virginia from 2016 through last year.

“I have profound sorrow for the families and have had unspeakable grief since I found out,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “I have unbelievable love for the outstanding young men that they were. My sentiment is gratitude to the families for trusting me to be a part of recruiting, developing and mentoring these young men. It has been the highlight of my coaching career. I’ll always be tied to them with my heart and soul.”

U-Va. shooter fired at football player as he slept, prosecutor says

Also on the bus was Mike Hollins Jr., a junior running back who had played against the Panthers, carrying eight times for 23 yards and adding three receptions for 22 yards.

Hollins was shot in the back and underwent two surgeries, most recently Tuesday morning to remove a bullet from his stomach, according to his father, Mike Sr., who spoke with The Washington Post. The younger Hollins is listed in serious but stable condition.

Elliott indicated he had stopped by the hospital Tuesday afternoon to be with Hollins and his family but declined to provide an update on the player’s condition.

The accused shooter, according to Hollins Sr., brought a gun onto the bus, waited until they returned to campus and began firing, leading to a massive manhunt that ended when law enforcement arrested Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. in Henrico County, some 80 miles from Charlottesville.

The announcement of the arrest came during a news conference Monday morning with law enforcement and university officials.

Jones, 22, was charged with three counts of murder in the second degree and two counts of malicious wounding.

“I have to acknowledge the strength of our players and our staff at this time in coming together to be able to work to process what has taken place,” Elliott said. “Just like many of you all and many of those that are very close to the situation, still in shock trying to rationalize but also find encouragement in the community with those that have come out in support.”

Elliott has met with his players several times since the shooting and said the first gathering Monday morning at the football facility was especially traumatic. He held back tears recounting some of the details of that initial meeting: Players were in shock, some sobbing and others unable to speak.

Remembering the three football players killed in U-Va.’s campus shooting

The three players killed were beloved among teammates, with Davis sharing a special bond with Elliott’s older of two sons.

Davis had missed the past two games while in the concussion protocols but was among the most dynamic playmakers on a roster of record-setting performers. As a freshman, the 6-foot-7 Davis had 20 catches for 515 yards and five touchdowns, including a career long of 90 yards. He led the ACC and was second nationally in yards per catch (25.8) in 2020.

Davis tore his ACL during spring practice last year and missed the entire season. He had 16 receptions for 371 yards and two touchdowns in eight games this season.

Perry appeared in six games this year, most recently recording two tackles against Pittsburgh. Chandler did not play this year.

“The first meeting was really, really tough,” Elliott said. “Really, really, really tough. [Tuesday] was much better. We were able to transition from the pain to finding a little bit of joy and celebrating the lives of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin.”

Nick Anderson, William Wan, Laura Vozzella, John Woodrow Cox, Justin Jouvenal, Karina Elwood, Susan Svrluga, Emily Davies and Keith L. Alexander contributed to this report.

Mass shooting at the University of Virginia

The latest: A month after the U-VA. shooting, the parents of D’Sean Perry have questions about why the violence was not prevented.

What do we know about the shooting? A witness revealed new details about the U-Va. shooting, where a gunman opened fire on bus full of students, authorities confirmed. Additionally, the University of Virginia failed to report the suspected shooter to a student-run judiciary committee.

Who are the shooting victims? Officials identified the deceased victims as U-Va. football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry.

Who is accused of the UVA shooting? 23-year-old student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. is the accused gunman in the U-Va. mass shooting. What was U-Va. shooting suspect’s motive? In an initial court appearance, a prosecutor claims that suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. fired at a sleeping football player.