Virginia finds its offense in shutout of Maryland

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Marc Verica threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Virginia finally clicked on offense and pounded Maryland, 31-0 on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (2-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), outscored 128-20 in three previous games against Bowl Subdivision teams, not only found a quarterback, but also their running game. Cedric Peerman ran for 110 yards, including a 9-yard third quarter touchdown.

That score, on a fourth-and-1 play, put Maryland (4-2, 1-1) in a 31-0 hole, and made certain that the Cavaliers wouldn't blow it this time. Two years ago, Virginia led the Terrapins 20-0 at halftime, then gave up 28 consecutive points and lost 28-26 at home.

But this game looked nothing like that one, or like any of the others Virginia had played so far this season on the way to cranking up speculation that coach Al Groh's job was in jeopardy.

Sparked first by its defense, and then by Verica, the Cavaliers dominated, turning a rivalry that usually produces last-minute heroics and heartache into a laugher instead.

Verica drew praise after his first start even though the team lost 45-10 at Connecticut, then threw four interceptions last week as the Cavaliers helped Duke end its 25-game ACC losing streak. He played like he was energized to finally get to play at home.

He hit Kevin Ogletree deep down the middle for a 51-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, the Cavaliers' first scoring pass of the season, and outran linebacker Alex Wujciak for 5 yards to the right pylon early in the second quarter, giving Virginia a 14-0 lead.

After getting the ball at the Cavaliers 12 with just over four minutes to play in the half, Verica completed all eight passes and directed a 12-play, 88-yard march. The touchdown came when he hit Ogletree from 15 yards out just 11 seconds before halftime.

Verica was 17-for-20 in the half for 178 yards.

Maryland tried to jumpstart its offense in the second half, but Obi Egekeze's attempt at an onside kick to start the half went only four yards and was downed at the Terps' 49.

That led to a 32-yard field goal by Yannick Reyering, and Terps tight end Dan Gronkowski was stripped by Vic Hall three plays later and Corey Mosley recovered for the Cavaliers.

Eleven plays and 61 yards later, Peerman went around the left side on the fourth-down play from the 9, found room on the sidelines and dove into the end zone to complete the scoring.

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