Playing like a team with little to lose, the freewheeling Zips threw caution to the wind and also threw a scare into the crowd of 56,216 at Scott Stadium on Saturday. It took two late touchdowns for UVa to pull away for a 48-29 victory that was closer than the final margin.
"It's dangerous playing a team like that," safety Jerton Evans said. "They were very gutsy, going for it when they didn't necessarily need to. Flea flickers. Fake punts. They tried just about everything."
For Akron (0-4), the risky approach produced 495 yards but wasn't enough to secure its first triumph of the season. The Cavaliers (2-2) countered with big plays of their own, including a 42-yard interception return by Art Thomas that gave them a crucial touchdown and a 34-22 lead late in the third quarter.
They needed that cushion when the Zips went 89 yards in 17 plays, scoring on Charlie Frye's 1-yard run. Frye, a sophomore quarterback, ran for two touchdowns and threw for 336 yards and another score. His only major mistake came on the pass picked off by Thomas.
"This guy's a really good quarterback. I told him that after the game," UVa coach Al Groh said. "I have a lot of respect for him. They can ride that guy to a lot of wins."
The Cavaliers earned their second straight victory by exploiting Akron's defense, which gave up 57 points to Iowa and 44 to Maryland. Schaub was coolly efficient, completing 19 of 27 passes for 202 yards without an interception. Lundy, a true freshman, had his first 100-yard rushing game and saved his hardest running for the end.
After Frye's touchdown made it 34-29, Lundy carried four straight times for 40 yards. Alvin Pearman ran twice more for 14 yards before Schaub faked a pitch to Pearman and threw to tight end Patrick Estes for a 4-yard touchdown.
"I think we kind of wore their defense out," Lundy said. "That's what we want to do - get the defense tired, then run it at them in the fourth quarter."
After a failed fake punt by the Zips, Schaub threw 29 yards to tight end Heath Miller for an insurance touchdown with 5:04 left. The five touchdown tosses were a career high for Schaub and one shy of the school record.
"We did what we had to do," Schaub said. "We knew they'd come in fighting and battling. We had to come in and match their intensity."
The Cavaliers had few problems early, other than Kurt Smith's missed 36-yard field-goal attempt on their first possession. Pearman raced 62 yards on a nifty cutback, setting up Michael McGrew's 8-yard touchdown catch. Schaub rolled out and nearly went out of bounds before throwing to McGrew, who made the catch while tiptoeing the sideline.
A minute later, after Virginia's defense stuffed Akron, special teams ace Alex Seals rushed up the middle and blocked Andy Jerdon's punt. Darryl Blackstock scooped up the ball and ran nine yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead - UVa's first punt block for a touchdown in five years.
"The biggest part of the game plan was we did not want to give up the easy scores," Akron coach Lee Owens said. "In a game like this, you can't give up the easy scores, and we gave up three."
Ultimately, however, it wouldn't be easy for the Cavaliers, who allowed 150 yards and 15 points in the second quarter alone. That included two 11-play touchdown drives and a 10-play march that ended in Bill Sullivan's 47-yard field goal with eight seconds left. The Zips might have scored more, but Sullivan missed an extra point and Frye was incomplete on a two-point conversion pass.
Akron, a 23-point underdog, played unorthodox football. Though its two fake punts were failures, it converted three fourth downs, all with terrific catches, and finished each drive with a touchdown.
Facing fourth-and-1 at the Virginia 37, fullback Ashanti Barbee made a one-hand grab for a 17-yard gain on the first play of the second quarter, leading to tight end Mike Brake's 20-yard touchdown reception.
After the Cavaliers went ahead 21-6 on Jason Snelling's 1-yard touchdown catch, capping off an impressive 11-play drive, the Zips zipped downfield. Morris Goodwin laid out for a 31-yard catch at the UVa 5 on fourth-and-9. Three plays later, Bob Hendry dove in from the 1, making it 21-12.
The teams continued to go back and forth in the second half. UVa receiver Billy McMullen drew two pass interference penalties, then caught a 2-yard touchdown pass for a 28-15 lead.
But Akron answered back with its own 79-yard march, highlighted by Morris Ellington's 41-yard catch on a flea flicker and capped off by Frye's 5-yard run.
After Thomas' interception return seemed to seal it for Virginia, the Zips benefited from a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on cornerback Jamaine Winborne to score once again. A diving 12-yard catch by Brandon Payne on fourth down set up Frye's second touchdown.
Fortunately for Virginia, Frye and the Zips ran out of heroics.
"It was a tough one," safety Shernard Newby said. "But through it all, we got a 'W' and that's all that matters."