The Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 4-2) fell to #25 Brigham Young Cougars in a high-scoring 66-49 game. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall returned to Provo, Utah, where he spent two seasons as BYU’s defensive coordinator and eleven as the head coach. As the head coach, Mendenhall compiled a 99-43 record with the Cougars; his 99 wins and winning percentage (.697) both rank second to LaVell Edwards.
The beginning of the game could not have gone any worse for the Hoos. After a three-and-out by the Cavaliers, BYU’s quarterback Jaren Hall completed passes of 52, 14, and 15 yards, before scoring the opening points with a two-yard rushing touchdown. On the ensuing play, quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw an interception that allowed the Cougars to start in the redzone. BYU running back Tyler Allgeier would rush in for a one-yard touchdown. Within the first seven minutes, BYU led 21-0, after Hall found Puka Nacua for a 26-yard touchdown in the back of the endzone.
The Hoos’ offense would get the ball rolling with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an Armstrong rushing touchdown. BYU would answer with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by Allgeier’s second rushing touchdown. UVA’s offense caught fire on big plays in the second quarter. Armstrong completed a 40-yard pass to tight end Jelani Woods for six. The Cavalier defense would force a three-and-out. The offense scored again, as Armstrong connected with wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks on a crossing route for 70 yards. The UVA defense would stand tall, and BYU settled for a field goal. Running back Devin Darrington broke away for a 49-yard rushing touchdown, as he was able to cut outside and sprint past the Cougars’ defenders. Later, Armstrong evaded pressure and rushed from 30 yards out to give the Hoos the lead. BYU would regain the lead when wide receiver Samson Nacua adjusted his body to haul in a back-shoulder pass for a 40-yard score. Armstrong would throw a 14-yard dart to wide receiver Billy Kemp to give the Hoos a 42-38 lead at the half.
The explosive plays continued into the second half, as Allgeier rushed in his own 49-yard touchdown. After a UVA punt, BYU would get into field goal range, but kicker Jake Oldroyd would hit the crossbar to keep the score 45-42. After a 15-yard pass interference penalty, FBP Keytaon Thompson would score on a two-yard reception. On the next drive, Allgeier rushed three times for 54 yards. The drive would end with a 10-yard completion between Hall and wide receiver Neil Pau’u for Hall’s third passing touchdown.
The game would begin to shift when running back Wayne Taulapapa fumbled after enduring a massive hit from BYU’s Uriah Leiataua, who would also make the recovery. On the following play, Allgeier shook off UVA tackles for a 31-yard touchdown to give BYU a 10-point cushion. Armstrong would throw his second interception, and the Cougars would not let up, as Allgeier would get his fifth rushing touchdown. Freshman Jay Woolfolk would check-in for Armstrong, who would leave with a rib injury. The Hoos would turn the ball over on downs, and BYU ran the clock out to seal the deal.
Though the offense started slow, they were able to wake up and score six straight touchdowns. They showed resilience once again by scoring 35 points in the second quarter. Armstrong finished with 337 passing yards, four touchdowns, but two costly interceptions. He added 94 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. He now has 3,557 passing yards on the season, which surpasses Bryce Perkins’s season passing record (3,538) set in 2019. Wicks caught four passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Over the past three weeks, Wicks has had 418 yards and four touchdowns. Thompson had nine receptions for 91 yards, along with 23 rushing yards. With their 588 total yards, the Cavalier prove they have one of the top offenses in the nation. However, the three turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Cougars, which played a factor in the result.
This was not a strong defensive performance for the Cavaliers. Coming into the game, Allgeier’s 861 rushing yards this season ranked seventh in the country. His 266 rushing yards and five touchdowns against the Hoos are all career-highs. BYU’s offensive line was much more physical than UVA’s defensive front, and even the wide receivers did well to give Allgeier blocks downfield. BYU’s offense was able to dominate all levels of the field, which is why the Hoos struggled to get stops. BYU finished the game with 734 total yards and were able to gash the UVA defense from beginning to end. Linebacker Nick Jackson had 16 tackles, and defensive back Joey Blount finished with 9. Virginia recorded zero sacks, two tackles for loss, and zero turnovers.
Despite the loss, UVA now control their own destiny to win the Coastal Division. With Pittsburgh’s loss to Miami, if the Cavaliers can win out in conference play (@ PITT; vs. VT), they will be playing in the ACC Championship Game. The Hoos will have a bye week coming up to get healthy and figure out some of the mishaps on both sides of the ball. They will return to action on November 13th, when they take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1) at Scott Stadium.