December 30 - Virginia Wins Music City Bowl
NASHVILLE - In what was a Jekyll-and-Hyde season for the Virginia Cavaliers, it was
only fitting that their Music City Bowl performance was much the same.
Minnesota (7-5) took a 21-10 lead into the locker room at halftime against a lethargic
Virginia club, only to see the Cavaliers (7-5) spring back to life in the second half
behind the arm - and feet - of quarterback Marques Hagans.
Hagans, who threw for a career-high 356 yards in setting a bowl record for Virginia
quarterbacks, was named the game's Most Valuable Player on the strength of a
25-for-32 performance, including two touchdowns.
Said Minnesota Coach Glen Mason of Hagans, "When you think you've got him, you don't." That
elusiveness in the pocket helped Hagans find a number of open receivers, including tight end and
Nashville product Tom Santi, who caught five passes for 128 yards.
The Gophers outgained the Cavaliers 306 to 170 in the first half, a half in which quarterback Bryan
Cupito was 11-for-15 for 182 yards and three scores. His performance mirrored that of the team in
the second half, as he was only 7-for-13 for 81 yards in the second 30 minutes.
"When we've got a team down like that, we've got to end the game," said Cupito in reference to his
team's second half.
Minnesota did no such thing, however, as they were outgained 298-to-155 and outscored 24-10 in the
Virginia pulled to within a 21-17 score on the opening drive of the second half, which was capped by a
seven-yard touchdown run from Wali Lundy, who set the career ACC record for touchdowns by a
running back in this game with 52. Minnesota then got a 39-yard field goal from redshirt freshman
Joel Monroe to make it a 24-17 contest.
The two teams continued to trade punches until the final Virginia drive, which went 75 yards in 3:57,
leading to a 39-yard field goal by Connor Hughes that gave the Cavaliers a 34-31 lead with 1:08
The "sea of orange", as Virginia coach Al Groh called his fan base that made the trek to Nashville,
had very little time to celebrate.
The Gophers completed a 2nd-and-10 toss to receiver Ernie Wheelwright to get to the Virginia side of
the field with just under a minute left.
Cupito's next pass, however, would seal the Gophers' fate.
The 48-yard toss to the corner of the end zone appeared to be in the hands of a Gopher receiver, but
was wrestled away by Virginia cornerback Marcus Hamilton for the game-saving interception.
Said Groh of the interception, "Your guy makes the play, you win. Their guy makes the play, they win.
You just have to step up and make those kind of plays." Groh's defensive coordinator, Al Golden, was
not at the game after taking the head coaching position at Temple, leaving him to take over the
defensive playcalling duties. Golden is one of four Virginia coaches to have taken a job at another
university before the game, joining Mark D'Onofrio (Temple), Danny Rocco (Liberty) and Ron Prince
Minnesota star running back Laurence Maroney rushed for 111 yards on 26 carries in this contest,
then announced after the game that he would be declaring for the NFL Draft.
Said Mason of the game, "I don't like the way the game turned out, but it was a great college football
The paid crowd of 40,519 appeared to feel much the same way.