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Flashback to 1995: Tom O'Brien

One of the most notable wins in Virginia football history took place on Nov. 2, 1995. On that Thursday night, the Cavaliers defeated Florida State, 33-28, to give the Seminoles their first ACC loss since joining the conference in 1992. As the current Virginia squad prepares to host Florida State at Scott Stadium on Saturday, we'll take a look back at that memorable '95 game through the perspectives of some of the team members who participated in it.

After North Carolina State's 48-7 win Sept. 4 over Western Carolina, Wolfpack Coach Tom O'Brien ran into Warrick Dunn, who had been part of the broadcast team for that game. Back in 1995, Dunn was the star Florida State tailback whom Virginia stopped just inches short of the goal line to preserve the Cavaliers' victory.

With the Seminoles lined up at the Virginia 6-yard line and time for only one more play left on the clock, Dunn took a direct snap and nearly scored. He was stopped by Virginia defensive backs Anthony Poindexter and Adrian Burnim.

O'Brien -- who at the time was Virginia's offensive coordinator -- remembered Poindexter and linebacker Skeet Jones later revealing what tipped them off about Dunn's plan on that run, and he decided to pass the information along to Dunn 15 years later.

"I told him: 'You were looking at the center. That's what they saw. They saw your eyes looking at the center and guessed that was the play,' " O'Brien said Wednesday. "And he still almost got it in. What a great player he was."

Most of what O'Brien remembered about the 1995 win over Florida State -- not surprisingly -- centered on Virginia's offensive plan of attack. The two teams tallied a combined 1,044 yards of offense that night, so there was plenty to choose from. Cavaliers tailback Tiki Barber compiled 193 yards on 31 carries. Virginia quarterback Mike Groh completed 19 of 37 passes for 302 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

"I can still remember Tiki Barber going down the sideline on an option pitch," O'Brien said of Barber's 64-yard touchdown run. "Florida State in those days played a lot of man coverage. We got 'em in man-to-man and outflanked 'em. And then we threw the ball deep. Had a lot of big plays on offense, and we needed every point we had. They were so prolific on offense. I think [then-defensive coordinator] Rick Lantz did a great job with the defense. That was the first time a lot of people ever saw a three-man rush, six underneath and two deep."

The announced attendance at Scott Stadium that night was 44,300, and a good number rushed the field before the game was over. They had to be pushed back so that the game could be completed. Both goal posts were torn down after the final whistle blew.

"I think that was the first time [Virginia fans] had rushed the field, and my kids were young then," O'Brien said. "They got to rush the field. So what they did, they went to every game after that ready to rush the field if Virginia won."

By Steve Yanda  | September 29, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
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Fans rushed the field in 1990, prematurely, during the waning moments of what I believe to be the first-ever win over Clemson. As someone in attendance at both games, I can say they were equally thrilling, albeit for different reasons.

Posted by: SRockville | September 30, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

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