On a weekend filled with heartfelt tributes and emotionally charged moments, the University of Virginia football team had an opportunity to record a special victory at Scott Stadium.
With 12:06 to play in the fourth quarter, UVA led James Madison 35-24 and appeared in command of the first game between these programs since 2013. Then came a weather delay that halted the proceedings for 73 minutes and cost the Cavaliers many of their fans in the crowd of 56,508.
When play resumed, the Dukes looked re-energized. They rallied for two touchdowns in the final minutes to edge the Cavaliers 36-35 on Saturday afternoon.
JMU regained the lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan McCloud to tailback Kaelon Black with 55 seconds left.
“This one hurts,” UVA head coach Tony Elliott said. “It’s going to hurt for a while.”
In a touching pregame ceremony, UVA honored the three players who were shot and killed Nov. 13 after returning to Grounds from a class field trip: Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry. Plaques commemorating each of them were added to the Legends Walk under the pergola at the north end of the stadium, and their jersey numbers—1 for Davis, 15 for Chandler and 41 for Perry—were emblazoned at the south end. Representatives of the families were on the field for the ceremony, as were many of UVA head coaches.
“I’ve got to thank our fans for showing up,” Elliott said. “They really showed up to support our guys, and I’m so thankful and grateful for that. I thought it was it an awesome, awesome moment done very, very well and set an example for honoring the lives of young men who were who were lost too soon.”
JMU (2-0) scored a touchdown on the game’s opening possession and went up 14-0 less than three minutes later, blocking Daniel Sparks’ punt and recovering it in the end zone. But the Wahoos (0-2) fought back behind true freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea, who sparkled in his first start.
Colandrea, who played most of the fourth quarter last weekend after starter Tony Muskett went down with a shoulder injury against Tennessee, connected with wide receiver Malik Washington on a 63-yard touchdown pass with 6:06 left in the first quarter Saturday. The Dukes stretched their lead to 17-7 with a field goal, only to see Virginia rally for 21 straight points. A 4-yard touchdown run by tailback Mike Hollins, who was wounded in the Nov. 13 shooting, sent the Hoos into halftime trailing 17-14, and they carried that momentum into the third quarter.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Colandrea hit tailback Kobe Pace on a 75-touchdown pass that gave Virginia its first lead. Pace, a transfer from Clemson, capped UVA’s next possession with a 3-yard touchdown run, and Will Bettridge’s extra point made it 28-17 with 10:29 remaining in the third quarter. A JMU touchdown late in the third quarter made it 28-24, but the Hoos answered with a drive that ended with Hollins’ second TD run, this one a 9-yarder.
On JMU’s first possession of the fourth quarter, Virginia forced a punt. But the Cavaliers’ offense followed that with a three-and-out series, and then Mother Nature intervened.
“Of course the weather delay took a toll [on UVA’s momentum],” Washington said, “but hats off to JMU. They played a great fourth quarter, so I don’t want to make any excuses.”
When the game resumed, the Dukes drove 80 yards for a TD, the final 27 coming on a run by tailback Ty Son Lawton. On their ensuing drive, the Hoos reached the JMU 41, but ended up punting. On its final possession, Virginia failed to pick up a first down and turned the ball over on downs with 26 seconds left.
“We had two possessions, and we didn’t finish the deal,” UVA offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said.
The Cavaliers rushed for three red-zone touchdowns, but they finished with only 18 yards (on 35 carries) on the ground. Their passing game, by contrast, produced multiple big plays. Colandrea finished 20-of-26 passing for 377 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
“Tough situation, but he was prepared,” Elliott said of Colandrea, who enrolled at UVA in January. “He was ready.”
Washington gained 119 yards on his five receptions, and fellow wideout Malachi Fields caught eight passes for 74 yards. Tailback Perris Jones had a 60-yard reception that set up UVA’s final touchdown.
“We had our opportunities,” Elliott said. “We gotta go earn victory. Nobody’s giving us anything.”
UP NEXT: In the first meeting since 2013 between these former ACC rivals, Virginia visits Maryland at 7 p.m. Friday. The game will air on FS1. The Hoos are seeking their first win in College Park since 2011, when they hammered the Terrapins 31-13.
The Terps have won two straight over UVA and lead the series 44-32-2. Maryland (1-0) hosted Charlotte (1-0) on Saturday night.
Virginia Team Notes
Announced attendance at Scott Stadium was 56,508, the largest crowd for a home opener since 2015 against Notre Dame (58,200).
UVA scored on touchdowns of 63 and 75 yards in the contest. The last time UVA had two touchdowns of 60 or more yards in a game was on Nov. 21, 2020 against Abilene Christian. Lavel Davis Jr. (90-yard TD reception) and D’Sean Perry (84-yard interception return) scored the two touchdowns vs. ACU.
Saturday marked the 500th game at Scott Stadium. UVA is 283-205-12 all-time at the facility. The first game of at Scott Stadium was on Oct. 15, 1931.
JMU snapped UVA’s five-game win streak in home openers. UVA drops to 60-26-5 and loses its first home opener since 2016 (Richmond).
The UVA loss is only the third at home in the month of September since the start of the 2017 season.
Virginia and James Madison squared off for the first time since 1983. UVA is 2-2 all-time against the Dukes.
The game endured a one hour, 10-minute weather delay at the 12:06 mark of the fourth quarter.