How about them WMU Broncos!

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I predicted it as my special on TV and radio and got so much crap. I am telling you people that the WMU Broncos are for real! Hats off to the staff and all the players on such a great win! Coach Bill Cubit will be my guest, this Friday on Hondo's House!

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Western Michigan used a stifling defense to capture its first win over an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference, defeating Virginia, 17-10, and spoiling homecoming for 59,679 Cavalier faithful. The win also marked the first win over the Cavaliers by a team from the Mid-American Conference.

 

The Broncos did it with defense in the first quarter. On Virginia’s opening drive, Kevin McCabe was errant on his pass and it was picked off by Louis Delmas and returned 24 yards to the Cavaliers 21-yard line. The Brown & Gold used eight plays to traverse the 21 yards, converting on two fourth downs. The second fourth-down conversion put WMU in the end zone when Mark Bonds went over the top for his sixth-career rushing score and gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead early.

 

Virginia’s offense found its rhythm on the Cavaliers next drive. After starting the drive on its own 17, UVa recorded a pair of first downs in three plays to move the ball to the 42 yard line. The key play of the drive came when Tom Santi found a space in the Bronco defense and McCabe found him wide open for 34 yards down to the WMU five-yard line. Jason Snelling tied the score on the next play, bouncing off two tacklers for the score.

 

The two teams traded field position over the next four drives and the first quarter ended with a tied game. The Cavaliers’ first possession of the second quarter resulted much the same as their first of the game. On a pass intended for Santi, McCabe’s pass was tipped by Anthony Gebhart, intercepted by Desman Stephen and returned 34 yards for the go-ahead score. The pick was Stephen’s first of his career and marked the second straight game WMU has scored on an interception return. Londen Fryar had the honor last week against Toledo, returning an interception 92 yards for a touchdown.

 

The interception not only put Western Michigan ahead, 14-7, it also knocked UVa’s starting signal caller. On the next drive, Christian Olsen replaced McCabe under center but did not fare much better as Virginia was forced to punt.

 

Western Michigan could not muster much on offense during the first half. In fact, Peregrin’s 19-yard completion to Jamarko Simmons in the second quarter, Peregrin’s career long, made up for almost all of the Broncos’ 23 yards passing. The Bronco ground game was also stymied during the first two quarters. Despite Bonds’ scoring leap, he finished the first half with just 16 yards on 10 carries, while freshman Brandon West ran the ball four times for 21 yards (5.2 ypc).

 

The Cavaliers ended the half on a positive note by capitalizing on great field position. UVa received the ball off a WMU punt at the Broncos’ 43-yard line. Olsen worked the two-minute offense well, completing three-out-of-five passes during a drive that resulted in a 34-yard field goal by Chris Gould with just 14 seconds left before halftime. 

 

The Cavalier offense sputtered throughout the first half but Virginia went to the locker room with a 187-52 advantage in total yards, having run 15 more plays than WMU. UVa quarterbacks combined for 137 yards through the air on 17-of-22 passing. Santi proved to be the target of choice as the junior hauled in five catches for 60 yards during the first two frames. But it was McCabe’s two interceptions that proved to be costly as Western Michigan went into the break with a four-point lead, 14-10.

 

Freshman quarterback Jameel Sewell began the second half under center for the Cavaliers and provided a spark early, completing his first three passes, one for a first down but on third and long, Ameer Ismail and Anthony Belmonte met at the quarterback for a sack that forced UVa to punt.

 

The Broncos took over at their own 20 after the punt. Bonds ran for three yards on the first play. He did a considerably better job on his second rush, scooting 56 yards down to the Virginia 17-yard line. A sack by UVa’s Chris Long stopped Western Michigan’s hope of a touchdown but Nate Meyer made good on a 32-yard field goal from the right hash to extend the Brown & Gold lead to 17-10 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter.

 

With Western Michigan still leading only by a touchdown and over 10 minutes left on the clock, Brandon West fumbled the hand off on a third-and-one play. The ball squirted away from the freshman ball carrier but was recovered by sophomore lineman, Steve Ellingsen. The play did force the Broncos to punt and the Cavaliers received the ball in WMU territory.

 

Snelling rushed for 15 yards to the WMU 21-yard line and he ran for another five yards on the next play. UVa drove the ball to the Broncos’ 14 when Ismail came through again with a nine-yard sack of Sewell. The loss forced the Cavaliers to have to attempt a 41-yard field that missed wide right, ending the threat.

 

WMU at VIRGINIA NOTES

-        First win over ACC opponent ever

-        Today’s game marks the first of two meetings against the ACC this season (Florida State – Nov. 18)

-        WMU has held its first three opponents to less than 100 yards rushing (Indiana – 71; Toledo – 88; Virginia – 69)

-        Thomas Peregrin making second career start

-        Louis Delmas recorded second INT of season (fifth of career in first quarter)

-        Mark Bonds scored sixth career TD on WMU’s first possession

-        Second consecutive game WMU has scored first

-        Desman Stephen records first career INT and TD

-        Second straight game WMU has scored on an INT return

-        Mark Bonds has had runs of over 50 yards in two straight game (Toledo – 57; Virginia – 56)

-        Jim Laney recorded 57-yard punt; longest of the season

 

Courtesy: Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic media relations