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VIRGINIA DARES TO TRIUMPH
Austin Murphy
September 17, 1990
After 29 straight losses to Clemson, sweet victory
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September 17, 1990

Virginia Dares To Triumph

After 29 straight losses to Clemson, sweet victory

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There he was—call him Everypreppy—Docksidered, khaki-trousered, navy-blazered, prevented from embarking on the standard University of Virginia post-football-game cocktail party crawl by one minor detail: this moron was hanging by the backs of his knees from the south goalpost at Scott Stadium, the very goalpost that hundreds of his fellow students, also in semiformal attire and also presumably blotto, were in the process of tearing down.

To find out what had transformed these refined Virginia Wahoos into coarse, disheveled yahoos last Saturday night, one needed only to read the scoreboard above them: VIRGINIA 20, CLEMSON 7. Since 1955, Virginia had played Clemson 29 times and had never managed so much as a draw. The Streak, as both sides came to know it, had taken on hexlike dimensions for some Cavaliers. For others, it merely frayed nerves. "I wish one of my predecessors had beaten them once or twice," Virginia head coach George Welsh admitted somewhat testily the day before the game. "Then I wouldn't have to answer these questions every year."

"You'd think that in one of those games something freaky would've happened that would have enabled us to win," mused senior defensive tackle Joe Hall on Thursday. Actually, plenty of freaky things had happened—all of them to Virginia. Through the decades, as surely as Lucy pulls the football away and Charlie Brown lands on his back, the Cavaliers found ways to feed the Streak:

?In 1958, after they had held the lead for most of the game, the Wahoos were beaten by a late bomb. Tiger coach Frank Howard, who called Virginia his "white meat" because the Cavaliers had always been such easy pickings, said, "that white meat is getting darker all the time." He exaggerated.

?In 1966, Virginia led 35-18 late in the third quarter. Clemson scored the game's final 22 points.

?In 1980, Clemson won on a 52-yard field goal with :06 remaining. The Tigers had trailed by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

?In 1988, with just two minutes remaining, blown coverage by a Cavalier corner-back making his first start gave Clemson the winning touchdown.

This season, a this-could-be-the-year hopefulness took root in Charlottesville, owing in part to the return of an explosive offense quarterbacked by a graduate student in education, Shawn Moore, and in part to strife at Clemson. When former Tiger head coach Danny Ford was forced by university president Max Lennon to resign in January and was replaced by Ken Hatfield, late of Arkansas, the football players nearly mutinied. Many threatened to transfer (none ultimately did). "It's been a slow transition," admitted one of Hatfield's assistants last week.

At Clemson, the Tigers sensed a possible upset in the making and escalated their game-week woofing accordingly:

"I don't think they respect us enough after 29 years. I think we're going up there to get some respect," huffed Clemson linebacker Doug Brewster. As for Shawn Moore, Brewster said, "Every time he loads up, he's going to get hit. I promise you that. Better tell him, 'cause I think he should know that."

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