Nov. 7, 1999
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - David Rivers' first three quarters as Virginia's quarterback were about what might be expected of a player whose only job in almost three years of college football was snapping the ball on the punt team.
His last three quarters were more than enough to make it all worthwhile.
"Amazing," coach George Welsh said after Rivers overcame a slow start and rallied Virginia to a 45-38 victory against then-No. 7 Georgia Tech. "The kid did good."
Rivers had thrown 15 passes in his career when he was tabbed to start in place of the injured Dan Ellis against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday. His counterpart was Joe Hamilton, a leading Heisman Trophy hopeful and the nation's top-rated quarterback.
Considering the stakes and expectations, it was no contest.
Bolstered by the 213-yard, two-touchdown running of Thomas Jones and a defense that stiffened when it needed to most, Rivers led the Cavaliers back from an early 17-0 deficit with three touchdown passes and surprised even his coach and his teammates.
Only a week ago, Rivers' duties as long-snapper were his only ones on the field. He lost that job when Ellis' recovery from a concussion made him the starting quarterback.
"He had a lot asked of him, to go out there and match the leading Heisman Trophy candidate and probably the best quarterback in the nation play for play," tackle Noel LaMontagne said. "It's just incredible for him to perform so well under those conditions."
Rivers finished 18-for-30 for 228 yards. He never lost his cool, his teammates said, and seemed to grow in confidence each time the Cavaliers moved the chains.
"I felt like once we started moving the ball on them, that was all we needed to do," said the Augusta, Ga., native, who was born and raised a devout Yellow Jackets fan.
Georgia Tech also helped make it a game with three crucial mistakes.
The Yellow Jackets scored on four of their first five possessions, but lost the ball at the Virginia 6 when Hamilton's pitch missed Dez White and Byron Thweatt recovered.
Later, Marvious Hester dropped an interception deep in Georgia Tech territory on the drive when Virginia went ahead to stay, and then Kelly Campbell let what would have been a 68-yard touchdown pass from Hamilton go off his fingertips on the next series.
Three plays after the drop, with 10:10 remaining, the Yellow Jackets punted.
"They did what they had to do," Yellow Jackets coach George O'Leary said of the Cavaliers, who kept alive their chance of winning seven games for the 13th straight season. Only Florida State, Michigan and Nebraska have streaks that long.
Georgia Tech, meantime, dropped to 13th in the AP poll released Sunday and saw its chances for an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series all but evaporate.
"It's the luck of the draw, man, the luck of the draw," Hamilton said.
Harris' Returns Bolsters SecondaryFootball4/28/17After missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, cornerback Tim Harris figures to be a key member of Virginia's secondary this fall.Williams' UVA Journey Nearing Its EndMen's Lacrosse4/26/17One game remains in the college career of attackman Zed Williams, who'll graduate from UVA next month with a bachelor's degree in drama.Afamefuna Thriving in New RoleMen's Soccer4/24/17After making the ACC's All-Freshman team as a defender last fall, Virginia's Robin Afamefuna is looking to contribute more at the attacking end this year.
Director of News Content
A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
Jeff White: Harris' Returns Bolsters Secondary
Football | 4/28/2017
After missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, Tim Harris figures to be a key member...
Virginia Spring Football Festival Set for Saturday
Football | 4/17/2017
The Virginia football team will hold its annual Spring Football Festival on Saturday, April 29 at...
Jeff White: Coleman Making Most of Opportunity
Football | 4/21/2017
Lester Coleman, who'll be a redshirt junior in the fall, has emerged as a strong candidate to...
Jeff White: Tight Ends Looking to Boost Productivity
Football | 4/14/2017
During the 2016 season, Virginia's tight ends combined for only eight receptions (for 49 yards...
Level II NCAA Infraction Announced
Football | 4/7/2017
The Virginia athletics department self-reported a violation of NCAA bylaws by the Cavalier...
Three Cavaliers Named to NFF Hampshire Honor Society
Football | 4/5/2017
Virginia football players Nicholas Conte, Ryan Santoro and Connor Wingo-Reeves earned NFF...
Jeff White: Moye Moving Up Depth Chart on D-Line
Football | 04/05/2017
As spring practice continues, rising sophomore Juwan Moye is bidding to replace Donte Wilkins as ...
UVA Football Season Tickets on Sale
Football | 03/03/2017
Season tickets for Virginia's 2017 seven-game home schedule will be on sale for renewals and new ...
- Online Stores