Peerman's guts fuel Cavaliers' rise

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Start with Cedric Peerman, the oft-injured, God-fearing, tackle-breaking machine with the mean stiff-arm.

But don't stop there. Don't even think about it.

Just like its wild, month-long rise to first place in the ACC's Coastal Division, Virginia's 24-17 victory Saturday at Georgia Tech was authored by many.

There was reserve nose tackle Nate Collins playing every snap, making six tackles and recovering a fumble in place of injured starter Nick Jenkins (ankle).

And the offensive line yielding only one sack against the conference's fiercest pass rush. And Marc Verica — another Matt Schaub in the making? — shaking off three turnovers to throw two touchdown passes and exceed 200 yards for the fourth consecutive game.

Oh, and linebacker Clint Sintim recording a sack for the fifth straight game, and cornerback Vic Hall closing the deal with a textbook interception.

Wait, there's more.

The coaching staff, particularly big whistle Al Groh and defensive coordinator Bob Pruett, adjusting brilliantly after Georgia Tech scored touchdowns on its first two possessions to snare a 14-3 first-quarter lead.

And yes, offensive coordinator Mike Groh dialing up a deep post route, which Maurice Covington sold convincingly against press coverage and Verica threw perfectly for a 34-yard third-quarter score that gave the 14-point underdog Cavs their first lead.

"Another we, us and our win," Al Groh said.

Trite, maybe. Also accurate.

But Groh, like most Virginia faithful, understands the genesis is Peerman.

"I'm almost uncomfortable talking about him," Groh said. "There's nothing I would say about Cedric that would do him justice. … He's our inspirational leader. … When a player sets a standard of laying it on the line like that, everybody follows."

Peerman, a senior tailback, missed half of last season with a foot injury and was slowed early this year by a cranky knee. And if Peerman can't play, you know doctors are probably talking amputation.

Ask Jackets freshman cornerback Rashaad Reid how tough Peerman is. On Peerman's game-winning, 3-yard TD run around right end, Reid took the textbook angle, only to be driven back by a stiff-arm to the face as Peerman lunged into the end zone.

Not that Reid didn't already know. On the final play of the first quarter, Peerman carried Reid on his back for several strides to complete a 17-yard gain, keying a drive that ended with the Cavaliers' first touchdown.

Keeping in character, Peerman wanted no part of any credit for his own performance or Virginia's transformation from bungling losers at Duke to division leaders at Georgia Tech.

"I play for the Lord and my teammates," Peerman said.

His teammates are much obliged.

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