CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The University of Virginia (UVA) is taking on the James Madison University (JMU) Dukes for its first home football game since three of the team’s players were shot and killed on campus last year.
UVA football players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry were killed in the November shooting. Two additional victims, Marlee Morgan and Michael Hollins, were taken to the hospital with injuries. After his recovery, Hollins made the decision to return to the field with his Cavalier brothers for the 2023-24 season.
The Cavaliers will play their 500th game at Scott Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 8 at noon. But first, the Wahoos will bring the stadium together with a pregame ceremony honoring the trio at 11:30 a.m.
When the gates to Scott Stadium open at 10:30 a.m., the first 35,000 fans who enter will receive a free “UVA Strong” T-shirt, with all fans being encouraged to wear orange. The end zone closest to the Cavalier student section will feature the UVA Strong logo, along with the names of Davis, Chandler and Perry, which will be kept in tribute to the players for the season’s entirety.
The home opener will be the first time the Wahoos have faced off against Virginia rivals, the James Madison University Dukes, in 40 years. While both teams will be fighting to take home the win, a letter from JMU’s vice president of student affairs, Tim Miller, shows that even while the teams battle it out, the Hoos will have the full support of the Duke student body in respects to the November tragedy.
“We stood by UVA in November, and we will stand by them again on Saturday,” Miller said in the letter. “The University of Virginia has declared ‘UVA Strong’ celebrations for the game, and JMU attendees are encouraged to participate.”
JMU’s helmets will feature stickers honoring the three players.
“I ask that we all remember that the football game is one small part of the day’s events and realize that we are part of an incredibly important moment in time for the entire UVA and JMU communities,” Miller wrote.
Miller ended the letter with #DukesSupportHoos.
In the latest update, the man accused of murdering Davis, Chandler and Perry, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is awaiting a grand jury trial at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 2.