Verica Responds In Crunch Time

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Marc Verica threw for 217 yards in the win over UNC.

Marc Verica simply wasn’t at his best for three quarters of Saturday’s game against North Carolina. A fact he readily admitted afterward with reporters. But was he at his best when he got one final chance? Boy was he ever.

Verica rebounded from a sporadic showing through three quarters to orchestrate a come-from-behind, streak-extending, you’ll-be-telling-people-about-if-for-years drive in regulation and capped it off with a final pinpoint throw in overtime to help lift UVa to its third straight win, a 16-13 victory over UNC.

“The first half was bad and I take a lot of the blame for that. I wasn’t on my game in the first half. So really my challenge in the second half was just to respond. I knew if the team was going to win the game, I would have to put it on my shoulders,” Verica said. “Through the encouragement of my teammates and the coaches, I was able to bounce back.”

Essentially, Verica had been inconsistent, a trait that kept him down the depth chart early in his career. The gap between good throws and bad throws had been too wide. Such was the case against the Tar Heels. A handful of sharp passes couldn’t offset some receiver drops. And even worse, Verica sprayed some of his throws around like a sprinkler watering the grass. Some sailed high. One skipped off the turf short of Maurice Covington . An early attempt to Cary Koch was lucky to escape interception. Twice he got a scathing earful from the coaches, once from Coach Al Groh up close and once from coordinator Mike Groh over the phone.

All in all, he completed just 12 of 24 passes through three quarters for a meager 92 yards. The offense had managed just three points, but remained in striking distance thanks to a sterling effort from the defense. And when the D held Carolina to a late field goal, Verica got his final chance. Taking the ball at its 18-yard line, Virginia stared ahead at 82 yards of green grass with just 2:18 on the clock and it needed