Oct. 26, 1985 — VMI 39, William and Mary 38. Quarterback Al Comer scored at the gun to pull VMI within a point, and James Wright got the two-point conversion on a flanker reverse to cap a wild game at Alumni Field. Thirty-two points in the fourth quarter, 49 in the second half. And VMI's last win in the series.
Jan. 26, 1986 — Super Bowl XX. Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10. The one and only Super Bowl I've attended. Zero drama, but still. Ditka. Buddy Ryan. The "46" defense. Jim McMahon. Fridge scores, but Sweetness doesn't. New Orleans. What more could you want?
Nov. 15, 1986 — Holy Cross 31, William and Mary 7. Just two weeks after W&M ran all over Virginia in Charlottesville, Holy Cross and two-way standout Gordie Lockbaum shut down the Tribe before more than 17,000 on a cold, soggy homecoming in Williamsburg. I still remember Holy Cross coach Mark Duffner (W&M Class of '75) jumping up and down on the sidelines like a man possessed, exhorting his players.
Oct. 17, 1987 — South Carolina 58, Virginia 10. Craig Fielder, a former Cavs player and cancer patient, traveled with the team. He passed away the night before the game in Columbia, S.C., and the Cavaliers had nothing on game day. The locker room afterward was literally funereal. As sad and subdued a setting as I've experienced in sports.
Sept. 2, 1988 — Tabb High 10, Hampton 7. The Peninsula's version of Clash of the Titans, and the kind of non-district game that's rarely scheduled: title contenders from different divisions. Tabb, with Terry Kirby and Chris Slade, was the defending Division 4 state champ, while the Crabbers had reached the state title game each of the previous four years. Thousands ringed Bailey Field, and traffic was backed up Route 17 all the way to Harwood's Mill Reservoir. Kirby worked, and I do mean worked, for 187 yards on 40 carries.
Sept. 9, 1989 — Virginia 14, Penn State 6. The Cavaliers, crushed in their opener by Notre Dame in front of a national TV audience at the Meadowlands nine days earlier, handed the Nittany Lions their first home-opener loss since 1965. You couldn't have found a more disheartened crowd than that day at Happy Valley.
Nov. 3, 1990 — Georgia Tech 41, Virginia 38. The No. 1-ranked Cavaliers — honest, you can look it up — fell on Scott Sisson's last-second field goal. A grand night in Scott Stadium. Overflow crowd. Tense game. Immense performances from Shawn and Herman Moore, and Georgia Tech QB Shawn Jones.
Nov. 13, 1993 – W&M 45, Massachusetts 28. An extraordinary performance by QB Shawn Knight and the Tribe offense (542 yards) on the bog that passes for UMass' field in November. A good Minutemen defense threw everything at Knight and never came close to slowing him down.
Dec. 10, 1994 — Hampton High 35, E.C. Glass 7. Ronald Curry and the Crabbers smothered the Hilltoppers in the Division 5 title game at Todd Stadium. On a muddy, sloppy surface, Curry somehow threw for 271 yards, and the Crabbers' defense bottled up Glass QB and future Hokies running back Andre Kendrick.
Nov. 18, 1995 — Virginia Tech 36, Virginia 29. A superior game in the 100th anniversary of the rivalry. The Hokies trailed 29-15 heading into the fourth quarter. They finally caught and passed the Cavs on Jim Druckenmiller's 32-yard TD pass to Jermaine Holmes, and the ensuing extra point, with 47 seconds left. Warwick High grad Antonio Banks' pick-six on the game's final play rubbed it into the Scott Stadium faithful's noses.
Dec. 6, 1997 — Hampton High 51, William Fleming 8. The Crabbers and Curry, playing his final high school game, won their third consecutive Division 5 state championship and 40th game in a row, on a frigid afternoon at Norfolk State's Dick Price Stadium. Yeah, Curry and the Crabbers were that much better than everybody else. He remains the best high school player I've ever seen.
Oct. 10, 1998 — William and Mary 52, Delaware 45. If you like offense, as entertaining a game as you'll ever see. Neither team led by more than one score in a game with 1,013 combined yards. Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said, "We ought to charge people on the way out, too, for this game."
Oct. 31, 1998 — William and Mary 41, Hampton 34. Neighborhood rivals. National rankings. Terrific game. Most notable for a blown call on Chris Rosier's 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run. The missed call brought HU prez William Harvey out of the box and onto the field to vent, then into the postgame press room basically to revoke visitors' privileges for the officiating crew.
Nov. 6, 1999 — Virginia Tech 22, West Virginia 20. A fairly nondescript game that got wild late. Shayne Graham's field goal at the gun in Morgantown preserved the Hokies' unbeaten season. Late scoring drive engineered by you-know-who. The legend of Michael Vick grows.
Nov. 27, 1999 — Virginia Tech 38, Boston College 14. No drama, but the culmination of Tech's 11-0 regular season. A lot of Vick and the Hokies' nasty defense. Fans stormed the field afterward to celebrate. A stirring afternoon.
Jan. 4, 2000 — Sugar Bowl. Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29. Peter Warrick outdueled Vick in the Louisiana Superdome for the national championship. Hokies football hasn't been the same since.
Sept. 22, 2001 — Virginia 26, Clemson 24. The Cavaliers' first game after 9/11. Death Valley. Security lines. Bag checks. Metal detectors. An inspired performance by Muffin Curry and the Cavs. Billy McMullen caught the game-winner on the final play. U.Va.'s only road win against a ranked team in the Al Groh era.
Dec. 10, 2004 — James Madison 48, William and Mary 34. Division I-AA semifinals. First night game in history at Zable Stadium. Packed house. Electric atmosphere. The Dukes' running game and Tribe mistakes allowed JMU to pull away. Still, an amazing night.
Dec. 17, 2004 — James Madison 31, Montana 21. JMU went to Chattanooga, Tenn., and won the Division I-AA (now FCS) national championship, becoming the first team to win four road games on the way to the title. The Dukes rushed for 314 yards on a surface that, because of newly laid sod, quickly turned into a cow pasture.
Dec. 10, 2005 — Oakton 28, Landstown 7. Landstown and future pro Percy Harvin had won 27 straight, but were no match for Oakton and Keith Payne in the Division 6 championship game at Darling Stadium. Payne rushed for 250 yards and all four Oakton touchdowns, and Landstown's high-octane attack was completely flummoxed. Afterward, Landstown coach Chris Beatty was hide-the-sharp-objects despondent.
Jan. 7, 2006 — Redskins 17, Buccaneers 10. As bizarre an NFL playoff game as you'll find. The Skins managed 120 yards, a record low for a winning playoff team, and quarterback Mark Brunell threw for just 41 yards in Tampa. The Skins' offensive performance was like watching a guy try not to slide off a cliff.
Nov. 25, 2006 — New Hampshire 41, Hampton 38. Great I-AA playoff game. The Pirates were poised for their first D-I playoff win, but New Hampshire executed two knife-in-the-heart plays late: a fake punt and a 25-yard TD pass on fourth-and-16 for the winning points.
Nov. 29, 2008 — Phoebus 38, Stone Bridge 8. The Phantoms were a talented team with a cause in a Division 5 state semifinal at Darling Stadium. They gave up nothing to a team that had beaten them in the 2007 playoffs, a team chock full of Division I athletes that averaged 49 points a game. Hungry wolves let loose in a butcher shop.
Dec. 19, 2008 — Richmond 24, Montana 7. The Spiders, under Peninsula native and first-year head coach Mike London, won the school's first national championship in Chattanooga, Tenn., with a dominant defensive performance. London's heart-on-his-sleeve approach and his players' performance and loyalty toward their new coach were inspiring.
Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Fairbank, read his blog at dailypress.com/fromthetarpit.