Making A List: Biggest Plays in Cavalier Football History

By: Matt Parsons Email
By: Matt Parsons Email

November 24, 2009

The final game of the 2009 Virginia Cavaliers football season is coming up this Saturday and while there have not been many memorable moments this year, the Virginia football program has had plenty of unforgettable plays in its long history. Matt has compiled a list of the three biggest plays in Cavalier football history.

Our list begins with the 1996 North Carolina game. The Tarheels came in to Scott Stadium looking for their first win in Charlottesville since 1981. Leading 17-3 in the fourth quarter, the Heels looked like they were about to score again, but Antwan Harris changed the complexion of the game. Harris' 95-yard interception return for a touchdown was just the spark the Cavaliers needed to stage the biggest fourth quarter comeback in program history.

“It took an almost sure defeat and made it a possible win, and I've never seen a college play on the defensive side of the ball that meant as much to the football team,” said UVa.. radio analyst, Frank Quayle.

Our next stop is Blacksburg, for the 1998 game against Virginia Tech. Quarterback Aaron Brooks helped lead the greatest comeback in Virginia football history, capped off by a 47-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Hawkins with just 2:01 remaining in the game. The Cavaliers have not won a game in Blacksburg since.

“Hate is a strong word, but I hate that gobble, gobble, gobble and the choking of the chicken, you know, we Cavaliers and it gets instilled in you. Once you step on this campus, you have to beat Virginia Tech, and you know, they was getting the best of us and you love as an athlete to hush the home crowd,” said Hawkins (WR 1997-2000).

It might surprise some to know that our number one play is actually just a simple tackle, but it was a tackle made by one of the greatest players Virginia football history, in what to this day is still known as the biggest win in program history.

The date was November 2, 1995. The Cavaliers welcomed No. 2 Florida State to Scott Stadium for the first ever Thursday night game in Charlottesville. Trailing 33-28, the Seminoles drove all the way down to the Virginia 6-yard line, putting themselves in position to score the game-winning touchdown. With just four seconds left in the game, Warrick Dunn took a direct snap and the rest, as they often say, is history. Anthony Poindexter combined with Adrian Burnim to make the game-saving tackle.

“I think it ranks right up there with one of the best plays I've ever been involved with, probably the game too. It was an electric atmosphere that night, and I don't know if Scott Stadium has ever been like that before or after that. You just kind of had a feel that something special was going to happen,” said Poindexter (DB 1995-1998).

It was Florida State's first ever loss in ACC play.

Matt's List:
1) Anthony Poindexter stops Warrick Dunn short of the goal line to preserve the win over Florida State in 1995
2) Ahmad Hawkins game-winning 47 yard touchdown reception against Virginia Tech in 1998
3) Antwan Harris 95 yard interception return for a touchdown against North Carolina in 1996

Is there a play that you hold in Cavalier football lore? Leave us a comment with your list of the biggest plays in Cavalier football history and we may share it on air.

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