Oct. 20, 2007
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Reserve running back Mikell Simpson capped an amazing all-around performance by scoring the winning touchdown with 16 seconds left, enabling the Virginia Cavaliers to beat Maryland 18-17 Saturday night for their seventh straight victory.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Terrapins.
Simpson scored on a 1-yard plunge to finish a frantic 90-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes. That gave the Cavaliers (7-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) yet another harrowing win this season - five of their seven victories have come by five points or fewer.
In this one, Virginia trailed 14-3 in the second quarter and 17-10 early in the third period before rallying.
Simpson ran 16 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 152 yards. The sophomore, who was listed third on the depth chart, had only two carries and four catches before Saturday.
He replaced starter Andrew Pearman, who had a foot injury and did not play.
"I never dreamed of this, but things happen," Simpson said.
"We just decided this was something Mikell has been waiting for for a long time and let's ride him and see what happens," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "Obviously, he showed us early that he was up for it."
He was there at the end, too. During the final drive, Simpson caught five passes for 48 yards and rushed nine times for 44 yards - totaling 92 yards on a 90-yard drive that including an intentional grounding call against the Cavaliers.
"On that last drive it just seemed like things didn't go our way," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said.
That included the final play, when Simpson lost the ball at the height of his dive.
"I saw the ball come out on the goal line. I saw it and I don't think he had possession," Friedgen said.
Simpson said, "It crossed the line. I knew I scored because I looked down and saw the yellow line and I saw the ball cross (before) they hit it out."
The Terrapins had not lost to Virginia at home since 1999. The victory gave the Cavaliers a measure of revenge from last year, when Maryland rallied from a 20-0 deficit to a 28-26 victory.
At the outset of the third quarter, a roughing the passer penalty and a 15-yard facemask call against Virginia fueled a Maryland drive that produced a 41-yard field goal by Obi Egekeze for a 17-10 lead.
The Cavaliers closed to 17-12 when standout defensive end Chris Long sacked Chris Turner in the end zone for a safety with two seconds left in the quarter.
After the free kick, Virginia got to the Maryland 30. But Jameel Sewell was stopped for no gain on two straight quarterback sneaks, forcing the Cavaliers to give away the ball on downs.
Simpson ran for 72 yards on four carries and had five catches for 54 yards in the first half, but Lattimore and Ball combined for 98 yards rushing and two touchdowns to stake the Terrapins to a 14-10 lead.
Sewell came out throwing immediately after the opening kickoff. Virginia's first four plays were short passes that totaled 61 yards, setting up a 36-yard field goal by Chris Gould.
The Terrapins answered with a nine-play, 69-yard drive that Lattimore ended with a 3-yard touchdown run.
After Lattimore ran for 47 yards in the first 15 minutes, Ball got his chance at the start of the second quarter. He ran four straight times for 35 yards, then took a swing pass 7 yards on a third-and-5 before scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 14-3.
Virginia, meanwhile, punted three straight times before Simpson broke through a hole in the middle of the line and sprinted 44 yards for his first touchdown of the year.