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Keith Payne 'nonchalant' after four-touchdown performance

As an exuberant Virginia football team poured into the home locker room at Scott Stadium after defeating Richmond on Saturday, the Cavalier who’d turned in the most noteworthy performance never wavered from his oddly subdued demeanor.

“It was quite amazing how nonchalant he was,” senior wide receiver Dontrelle Inman said of fifth-year senior tailback Keith Payne.

Payne had just rushed for 114 yards and four touchdowns in his first performance for the Cavaliers since 2008 – discouraged with his role in the offense, Payne left the team prior to the 2009 season – but his production didn’t draw out too much outward emotion.

His teammates, Inman said, more than made up for it. At one point during the third quarter Payne carried the ball and pushed the pile forward for extra yards on three straight plays. The reaction along the Virginia sideline nearly elicited a penalty flag, according to Inman.

“I don't know if you all got a chance to see how energetic the sideline was when he was doing it,” Inman said after the game. “We knew he was capable of doing it. We was just waiting for that breakout moment for him to do it. We was just so excited for him to do that. I always knew he had it in him, and I was just waiting and waiting since I been here, so I was glad for him to just have his moment today.”

Coach Mike London was effusive, as well, in his postgame praise of Payne, a player London admitted has not always been in his good graces.

“I know he tries to slither through holes, but he's too big to do that,” London said of Payne, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. “But there was a couple times he jump-cut in a hole and stayed on his feet and hurdled a tackler, and then when they were trying to jump on him he just kept running and staying on his feet. That's the kind of thing that excites the people the watch ... When you see a running back giving maximum effort, you want to, in turn, give maximum effort to block for him, and it just kind of caught on a little bit.”

By Steve Yanda  |  September 7, 2010; 11:22 AM ET
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