CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kevin Parks and freshman backup Daniel Hamm both ran for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns as Virginia tuned up for the start of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with a 49-0 victory over VMI.
VMI (1-3), of the FCS Big South Conference, had lost nine in a row to Virginia — mostly by lopsided margins — and were coming off a loss to Division II North Greenville.
Hamm had 136 yards and Parks 135 to become the first Virginia running back duo to exceed 100 yards since 2005. Parks’ 61-yard TD run was a career long.
Watford had TD passes of 28 yards to Tim Smith and 4 yards to Jake McGee.
With the outcome of the game practically a foregone conclusion, the priority for the Cavaliers was simply to get better heading into their first ACC and first road game next Saturday against Pittsburgh.
The Cavaliers also hoped to show more explosiveness on offense. They entered the game averaging only 261 yards per game and had only two pass completions of more than 15 yards, fewest in the FBS. They finished with 554 yards and held VMI to 85 yards and four first downs.
The Keydets kept it interesting early by intercepting two Watford passes and stuffing Virginia on a fourth-down attempt at midfield. But they couldn’t get anything going offensively; managing just two first downs in the first half — one of those on an offsides penalty — and the Cavaliers gradually began asserting their physical superiority.
Eric Kordenbrock, who last week became just the second VMI quarterback to have back-to-back 300-yard passing games, found the going a lot tougher against Virginia. He finished 9-of-27 for 38 yards.
Parks had his fourth career 100-yard game in hand by halftime, thanks largely to his career-long 61-yard touchdown run two plays after Virginia stopped VMI on fourth down at the Cavaliers 30. On the run — Virginia’s longest since 2008 — Parks started left, hesitated and broke through the first wave of defenders into the open.
Parks followed that up with a 2-yard touchdown run to cap a 12-play, 62-yard drive that he had kept alive with a fourth-down conversion near midfield.
Virginia burned two timeouts on defense late in the first half to preserve time for another score, and it paid off. The Cavaliers got the ball back with two minutes left, and two plays later Watford hit a diving Tim Smith in the back of the end zone to make it 21-0 at the half.
By then, it was clear that the Keydets lacked the firepower to get back into the game. And Virginia did its part to make sure they didn’t, with Watford hitting Parks on a 54-yard swing pass on the first play of the second half to set up Hamm’s 7-yard TD run one play later.
After another three-and-out by VMI, the Cavaliers marched 67 yards on seven plays and Hamm made it 35-0 on Watford’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee. Watford had a 1-yard TD run and Hamm, a fourth-stringer pressed into duty because Khalek Shepherd and Taquan Mizzell were out with sprained ankles, added a 12-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
Parks finished with 135 yards on 17 carries despite sitting out most of the second half. Hamm had 136 yards on 21 carries. They are the first Cavaliers running back duo to have more than 100 yards each since Jason Snelling and Wali Lundy did it against Temple in 2005.