CHARLOTTESVILLE — When Virginia free safety Corey Mosley was flagged for a questionable pass interference penalty at the goal line Saturday in the second quarter of U.Va.'s 31-21 victory against Duke, the response was a chorus of boos from fans and a series of conniptions from U.Va.'s coaching staff.
With the score tied 7-7, and Duke facing fourth-and-4 from U.Va.'s 5-yard line, Mosley appeared to come over wide receiver Donovan Varner's right shoulder to knock a pass away. It didn't look like Mosley made contact with Varner until after Mosley batted the pass down, but a flag was thrown anyway with 9:18 left in the quarter.
Duke was awarded first down at U.Va.'s 2. After a timeout by U.Va. (7-3 overall, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), Duke scored two plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Juwan Thompson to go up 14-7.
Fans booed for the next five minutes after the penalty. Anthony Poindexter, U.Va.'s special teams coordinator and safeties coach, nearly came out of his skin – jumping up and down and waving his arms wildly at officials.
To put it mildly, U.Va.'s players and coaches didn't agree with the call.
"You agree to disagree on things like that," said U.Va. coach Mike London, who wore military-style camouflage on the sideline as a tribute to veterans. "Let's just put it this way, I disagreed with it. It set up an opportunity to keep the ball in play for them. We'll just have to look at the film later on. I may have been wrong. (The official) may have been right."
London said he may choose to call the ACC office to have the penalty reviewed if he still doesn't agree with the call when he looks at it on film.
After the game, London and Duke coach David Cutcliffe appeared to get into a bit of a disagreement during the postgame handshake. Cutcliffe walked away after the handshake, but London continued to follow him for a few yards, jawing at Cutcliffe.
"We just talked about how the guys got after it and – maybe just too much talking a little bit from both sides, and things like that," London said. "Sometimes, as I told the players, you've got to be careful about letting your emotions get to you."
U.Va. running back Perry Jones returned a punt for 21 yards in the third quarter to start a drive that eventually concluded with a 29-yard field goal by Robert Randolph to push U.Va.'s lead to 31-21. It was Jones' first punt return of the season.
Jones filled in for freshman Dominique Terrell, who normally handles punt returns, but was charged with a fumble in the first quarter when he failed to get out of the way of a punt that rolled on the ground. Duke recovered the fumble at U.Va.'s 26, but couldn't get any points out of it.
Jones' season debut as a punt returner wasn't U.Va.'s only adjustment in the return game.
Defensive coordinator Jim Reid said Poindexter noticed some motions and alignments on film in Duke's punting formation that were concerning, so Reid left his defense on the field in front of a return man during Duke's punts.
KNACK FOR BLOCKS
U.Va.'s Matt Conrath blocked Will Snyderwine's 25-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, giving Conrath three blocks this season and five for his career.
U.Va. travels next weekend to play at Florida State (7-3, 5-2). On Saturday, FSU defeated Miami 23-19. Last season, U.Va. lost 34-14 to FSU in Charlottesville.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun