Opinion: Relocated Game Will Pay Off with Bowl Berth

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)


Before perhaps the smallest crowd ever to see Virginia's football team play, the Cavaliers improved their record to 2-1 with a 45-31 triumph over Ohio University at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday's game:

1. Was it worth the money?

Virginia was contractually obligated to shell out $650,000 to Ohio, wherever the game was played. It was originally scheduled for Charlottesville, but was moved to Vanderbilt out of concerns over the threat posed by Hurricane Florence.

All told, Virginia had to pay well over $1 million, considering travel expenses, etc. The Cavaliers could have gotten out of the game because there was a natural disaster clause in the contract. North Carolina and North Carolina State elected not to play, but UVa felt Ohio was one of the more beatable teams on its schedule.

If Virginia gets to a bowl, particularly if the Cavaliers go 6-6, you'd have to say it was worth it.

2. So much for the questions about Bryce Perkins' accuracy

Perkins, the junior-college transfer who was slated to be the Cavaliers' starting quarterback from the time of his arrival in January, had completed an underwhelming 52.1 percent of his passes in the first two games.

He was 25 of 30 for 379 yards and three touchdowns against the Bobcats and was not intercepted. He didn't run as successfully as he had in back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, but that also meant he wasn't hit as much. He was sacked three times.

3. Record-and-rock breaker

Olamide Zaccheaus was an overwhelming choice to take out the sledgehammer and smash the "rock" that Virginia brings to games at home and on the road.

Zaccheaus, a 5-foot-8 senior, had nine receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns, breaking a 44-year-old UVa record for receiving yardage in a game.

Most of his yardage on 86- and 77-yard touchdown receptions came after the catch. Not to be overlooked are his consistency and durability: Zaccheaus has had at least one reception in 32 consecutive games.

4. Ellis not to be overlooked

Senior tailback Jordan Ellis moved up eight places on UVa's all-time rushing list with a career-high 171 yards on 19 carries, none of them for loss. It was the first time since 2011 that a Virginia back scored three rushing touchdowns in a game.

With 1,351 rushing yards for his career, Ellis has a chance to become Virginia's 20th career 2,000-yard rusher.

5. Does place-kicking need to be evaluated?

After Ohio had rallied from a 35-7 deficit to cut Virginia's lead to 38-28, place-kicker A.J. Mejia had a 30-yard attempt clang off the left upright on fourth-and-1 from the Ohio 13 with 10:36 left.

It remained a two-score game, but the Cavaliers would have been better served to go for a first down. Mejia had converted a 32-yarder with two seconds left in the first half, but has struggled since the last month of the 2017 season.

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September 17, 2018


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