Virginia offense helps Cavs avoid loss to FCS William & Mary

Virginia escapes William & Mary for first win (2:18)

ESPN's Stan Lewter and Shawn Kenney discuss how Virginia made the necessary big plays to beat William & Mary 35-29. (2:18)

Virginia finished with a 35-29 win, but overall Cavaliers fans might feel the same now as they did last week following a loss to Notre Dame, if not worse. Virginia trailed William & Mary by 10 at one point, and it wasn't until the final minutes the Cavs put away an FCS program that was 7-5 a season ago.

William & Mary was driving for the game-winning score and was in Virginia territory, but the Cavaliers stopped William & Mary on fourth down to seal the win.

The issue for Virginia under Mike London is an inconsistent offense, but the unit has found its identity with Matt Johns at quarterback. Johns led four scoring drives of at least 75 yards.

It's a vast improvement, but now it is the defense letting Virginia down. An underrated group last year allowed 29 points to an FCS offense.

Both sides of the ball will need to be counted on next game against Boise State if Virginia has any chance of pulling off the upset. A 1-3 start could doom coach Mike London, who likely needs to reach a bowl game to remain in place for 2016.

What the win means for Virginia: The Cavaliers are on the board with their first win of the season. They avoid an embarrassing loss, and every win is critical for a program desperately looking to play in the postseason after narrowly missing a bowl in 2014. The good news is the offense looks as if it could be solid all season. The defense is talented, so there's promise on that side of the ball. With a competent offense, Virginia could ruin a few other teams' ACC championship game aspirations. Rarely has a Virginia team put it all together, however.

What the loss means for William & Mary: It is a missed opportunity for an upset of an in-state school. William & Mary fans would have serious bragging rights over Virginia fans. Instead, William & Mary will watch the film and feel good about their start but struggle with how the game ended.

Stat of the game: Virginia only punted the ball twice. Of course it is only William & Mary, but the Virginia offense can't be picky after struggling the last several years.

Uh, what?: Virginia was nursing a 15-point lead but was in the tenuous situation of punting from its own end zone. Punters there are instructed to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible because of the tight quarters. Nicholas Conte didn't move quickly enough, and William & Mary blocked the punt for a safety. It scored on the ensuing possession to pull within six.