CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -Jameel Sewell is one of the few Virginia players who even seems willing to acknowledge Virginia Tech has owned the in-state rivalry in recent years.
The Hokies have won three in a row and seven of eight in the series, and last year got an assist from Sewell late in the first half. Already backed up against his end zone, Sewell fumbled on a snap, the Hokies recovered and scored to go up 7-0.
Sewell also threw an interception in the game, and finished 10-for-21 for just 66 yards. The Cavaliers had just one snap in Hokies territory all day and lost 17-0.
No. 16 Virginia will try to break the trend and win the ACC's Coastal Division championship Saturday against No. 8 Virginia Tech.
``We just don't want to have that same feeling,'' Sewell said Tuesday.
The winner advances to play Boston College the following week for an Orange Bowl berth.
``Nobody likes the feeling of losing and we all know what that feels like,'' he said. ``We've got to remember that and go in and play like the great team that we are.''
For the Cavaliers, Sewell has been the key all season, from the 23-3 loss in their opener that he calls his turning point to the five wins by two points or fewer.
At Wyoming in the season opener, Sewell was 11-for-23 for 87 yards with two interceptions, a dismal showing that inspired coach Al Groh to play freshman Peter Lalich in the waning minutes, and on a rotation basis for several games thereafter.
``I don't consider myself that type of quarterback,'' Sewell said. ``I played like a pure rookie, somebody that didn't know what they were doing out there. I just had to focus a lot more on film and little things like mechanics and everything like that.''
Now, he's facing one of the biggest games in the program's history and, like most of the team, trying to treat it like just the next game on the schedule.
``I just do the same thing I do all the time, just trying to stay focused really, and paying attention to what every coach is saying to me, even if it's a defensive coach,'' Sewell said of coping in a sea of bubbling anticipation for the game.
For the year, Sewell has completed just over 58 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He's the team's third-leading rusher, too, and has led fourth-quarter rallies to five narrow victories as the Cavs have won nine of the last 10.
Groh, who has beaten the Hokies once in six years, has seen the agony brought by bad plays by his quarterback in the series, and Sewell knows to be ever aware.
``They're ball-hawks,'' he said. ``They just find a way to get the ball and take it away from a team. That's just something we have to try to avoid as much as we can.''
Success, Groh said, could be critical to having a chance to beat the Hokies.
``With what has been the case this year and obviously historically on defense and special teams, if you make a mistake, it's not just a bad play,'' Groh said. ``Usually it's harmful on the scoreboard. I think we're collectively well aware of that.''
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