The Cavaliers weren’t perfect Saturday night, but they did enough to come away with a 26-21 victory. The defense gave up 472 yards but shut down the high-powered FSU scoring machine. There were as many dropped interceptions by the defense as there were dropped passes by the offense, but when the secondary needed a big pick it got it and when the receivers needed a drive-sustaining catch, they made it.
The Wahoos attacked on both sides of the ball and played with an emotion and physicality that they had not displayed in five previous games. “Magical” Marques Hagans was, well, magical, and though the receivers did not catch everything, they caught enough. The defense freely gave up yardage between the 20s but stiffened in the red zone, holding one of the top-scoring offenses in the nation almost 15 points below its season average.
Grades are about leadership, toughness, heart and execution. In the first three categories, Hagans gets an A+; in the execution category he receives a B. The execution grade reduction is due primarily to a couple of fumbles, some poor pass reads and a 4-for-14 third-down conversion performance.
But the grade in no way reflects how vital the effort of Hagans was to Virginia’s ultimate success. In the first half, Hagans calmly completed 80% of his passes for two scores and 224 yards against the #24 pass defense in the nation, one that entered Saturday’s contest yielding just 179 yards per game. Hagans hit 11 of 16 in the second half.
FSU coach Bobby Bowden may have offered the best description of Hagans’ performance. “We couldn’t stop number 18,” he said. “I’ve never seen a quarterback make as many one-man plays as he did tonight. … I’ve never seen a quarterback beat us with a one-man show. The last time that happened to us
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