CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Al Groh came back to college for nights like this.
Bryson Spinner threw a one-yard pass to Billy McMullen with one second remaining to give Virginia a 26-24 triumph over Clemson and Groh his first Atlantic Coast Conference victory with the Cavaliers.
Spinner threw a an earlier TD pass to McMullen and scored on a six-yard run for the Cavaliers, whose game with Penn State last week was postponed by the terrorist attacks.
"This is about as well managed a stadium as I've ever been in," Groh said. "It was a pleasure to play here. Coach (Tommy) Bowden's got a fine team. I've never met a more gracious coach at midfield at the end of the game than I did with Tommy Bowden."
Clemson had taken a 24-20 lead early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard TD run by Travis Zachery and appeared on its way to defeating the Cavaliers for the 35th time in 41 all-time meetings.
But the Cavaliers (2-1, 1-0 ACC) took advantage of a short punt and drove 44 yards in six plays to the winning score with the help of a trick play.
Fullback Tyree Foreman took a pitch from Spinner, stopped and threw a 16-yard pass to McMullen that moved Virgina to the Clemson 4 and set up the go-ahead TD.
Cornerback Kevin Johnson appeared to have saved the game for Clemson with a tackle of Foreman at the 1, but the Cavaliers kept their composure and were able to get back to the line of scrimmage. Spinner lofted a pass into the right corner of the end zone and McMullen made a leaping catch.
"As a result of the events today, we are in the hunt," Groh said. "It's a long hunt, but we're in it. There has to be a first step to raise the level of expectations and to learn the difference between really trying hard and competing."
The win capped an emotional and uncomfortable week for Groh, who left his job as coach of the New York Jets to take over at his alma mater. A native of Long Island, New York, Groh knew several people who were victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Earlier this week, however, Groh made a flippant comment disparaging Arabs during a weekly news conference and later apologized.
Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler completed 25-of-34 passes for 251 yards but was intercepted twice. He also carried 23 times for 67 yards.
"The guys played hard the whole game," Bowden said. "It's just tough. There's still a lot left on the table. We've only played three games and we have eight left to go."
The Tigers (2-1, 0-1) were in control early, jumping to an early 10-0 lead on a 16-yard TD run by Terrance Huey and a 45-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt.
Virginia finally settled down midway the second quarter and proceeded to score the next 20 points.
David Greene kicked field goals of 30 and 31 yards to cut the deficit to 10-6 at halftime. The Cavaliers took their first lead 2:16 into the second half on a six-yard TD run by Spinner.
A 14-yard TD pass from Spinner to McMullen increased the lead to 20-10. McMullen caught eight passes for 88 yards.
"That was a quick game," Bowden said. "It was a 59-second game. You always hate to be on the losing end, but I think we're a work in progress. As long as guys will play as hard as they did tonight, we can eventually (get there)."
Spinner completed 14-of-24 passes for 169 yards. On the ground, Arlen Harris carried 17 times for 73 yards.
Dantzler cut the lead to 20-17 with a one-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Derrick Hamilton of the Tigers caught nine passes for 90 yards and Zachery carried 23 times for 87 yards.
Clemson failed to attain just its fifth 3-0 start since 1961.