Jana Becomes Another Weapon For UVA Offense

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics

A major factor in Virginia’s win over North Carolina last weekend in a huge ACC Coastal Division showdown was a somewhat unheralded receiver in Terrell Jana.

The former Woodberry Forest star had his best day ever as a Cavalier when he hauled in a career-high 13 passes from quarterback Bryce Perkins, for a career-high 146 yards in UVA’s 38-31 win.

By our count, Perkins targeted the junior receiver 16 times and he caught 13 of those. Eight of them were for first downs, including a career-long 34 yards on one second-half reception.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall and Perkins both raved over Jana’s production in the game.

However, perhaps the biggest play Jana made wasn’t a catch. It was a fumble recovery.

With Virginia leading, 24-17, running back Wayne Taulapapa ripped off a gain but fumbled. Jana recovered, and in the process a UNC player was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Cavaliers a first down at the Tar Heels’ 9.

UVA scored on the next play when Perkins lobbed a short pass over a defender’s head, the ball landing in the mitts of tight end Tanner Cowley.

Mendenhall praised Jana for jumping on that ball, helping the Cavaliers expand their lead in a wild, high-scoring affair.

“What goes on at the bottom of the pile, stays at the bottom of the pile,” Mendenhall chuckled.

When media asked Jana what was bigger, his 13 catches or the fumble recovery, he had a hard time choosing.

“I came off the edge, got my guy, and I saw Wayne with a great run. Then I saw him roll over and he had no football in his hand,” Jana described the play. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, something’s wrong.’

“Luckily the defensive back missed it. I was in the right place at the right time. It was that kind of night for me.”

Bottom of the pile?

“Yes, some guy was trying to get it, but the weight room helped me a little bit and I was able to keep him off it,” Jana said.

The big night boosted his season totals to 44 receptions for 478 yards. He’s averaging 10.9 yards per catch, essentially a first down. He hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, but that could be coming.

Virginia did some self-scouting and decided to get away from some tendencies in its offense, and thusly Jana — whom Perkins said is one of the smartest players on the team — just kept getting open.

“I think preparation early in the week [was the key to his night],” Jana said. “We had been converting those same plays all week. Executing in practice allows us to have more freedom and confidence in the game.”

The wide receiver acknowledged that UVA had played fairly well offensively in the first half but suffered letdowns after the break, and was glad to see that come to an end.

“Just knowing and embracing some of our weaknesses, and the second half has been our weakness. I think as an offense, we knew that and we were constantly talking about believing and having confidence [heading into the UNC game],” Jana said.

Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics

For his effort, he was rewarded with the honor of “Breaking the Rock,” a tradition reserved for the player of the game.

“That was an amazing feeling,” Jana said. “I’ve been waiting two years for that. That moment was for the whole team.”

If Jana can continue to be a factor in games, that will take some pressure off receiver teammates Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed, and make the Cavaliers even more difficult to defend down the home stretch as they attempt to win the Coastal Division title for the first time.

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