CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A sloppy first quarter threatened to put a damper on Virginia's hope for an easy week against VMI, but the Cavaliers found their stride in the second quarter en route to a 49-0 win over the Keydets.
The Virginia running back tandem of junior Kevin Parks and freshman Daniel Hamm combined for 271 yards and four touchdowns as the Cavaliers scored 49 unanswered points over the final three quarters of the game. Cavalier injuries gave Hamm his first collegiate start, and walk-on did not disappoint, finding the end zone twice while taking the majority of Cavalier snaps in the second half.
Sophomore quarterback David Watford was shaky early, throwing two interceptions on two tipped passes, but he recovered to finish 18-of-25 for 206 yards. He found receiver Tim Smith and tight end Jake McGee for two touchdowns, and with the Cavaliers up 42-0 in the third quarter, he was pulled in favor of redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert.
"Take away those two interceptions, and the line looks like 18-23," London said. "We talked about Dave several times, about what kind of young man he is, and the thing is, he has poise. He doesn't get rattled much."
The touchdown to Smith was the Cavaliers' first pass of over 25 yards, and Watford was relieved to ne able to air it out.
"It was like my first touchdown that I threw to him against NC State (in 2011)," Watford said. "It's that same feeling, that deep ball. He's a deep ball threat ... it's a confidence booster for me. I throw it up there, he'll go get it."
The Keydets managed to stay in the game early, but they struggled against the Virginia defense. Senior Eric Kordenbrock finished 9-of-25 for 38 yards, and junior Deon Watts led the team with 25 rushing yards. VMI had just 47 yards in the first half -- compared to Virginia's 277 -- and eight of their nine first-half drives ended in a punt.
"We couldn't get anything going offensively," VMI coach Sparky Woods said. "It was too much to ask of our defense."
VMI looked poised to make keep the game close, forcing three straight Virginia three and outs and holding the Cavaliers scoreless.
"I was really encouraged by our defense," Woods said. "We're not going to play a team as strong as Virginia. We can go back and find, 'We won that battle right here.'"
Parks broke through the Keydet defense for a 61-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The score seemed to open a floodgate for Virginia, as the Cavalier drove into the red zone three more times before the end of the half.
A missed field goal by sophomore Ian Frye kept the game at 7-0, but Parks scored again with three minutes left in the half and Smith hauled in a 38-yard pass from Watford with two minutes left to push it to 21-0.
After halftime, the Keydets' offensive woes only deepened. They had just 34 yards in the third quarter, and could not answer the Cavaliers' repeated scoring threats.
A 54-yard pass from Watford to Parks put Virginia inside the 10-yard line just 30 seconds into the second half, and Hamm punched it in from 7 yards out to go up 28-10. A VMI punt gave Virginia the ball again, and Virginia promptly drove it down the field for a score from McGee. VMI had just four first downs in the game -- including one on a penalty -- and punted 12 times.
Leading 42-0 going into the fourth quarter, Virginia pulled most of its starters but still managed to find success, as Hamm scored early in the fourth quarter. As a rainstorm hit the stadium midway through the fourth quarter, both teams traded ineffective drives, and the Cavaliers sealed the shutout.
"We just got to go out there and give it our all," sophomore defensive end Eli Harold said. "The offense started slow, but look what they did, they came, they bounced back, they put points up. You got Hamm, a walk-on, look what he did. You've got to be excited for those guys."
NOTES: Parks had the longest run (61 yards) and the longest reception (54 yards) of his career Saturday. He finished with 135 rushing yards and 69 receiving yards, with two touchdowns. ... VMI has not led Virginia in 29 quarters, dating back to Oct. 15, 1983. Virginia leads the all-time series 57-23-3. ... Kordenbrock had over 300 yards passing in each of his last two games, but was held to just 38 yards against Virginia.