The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Louisville Cardinals 31-17 at Scott Stadium to move to 3-4 on the season. UVA’s defense forced 3 turnovers which led to 14 points, and UVA’s offense overcame a slow start to put up solid numbers overall behind Brennan Armstrong’s one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns.
On Louisville’s first possession of the game, the Cardinals quickly moved the ball down the field. However, when they were in the red zone, UVA’s Noah Taylor intercepted a pass from Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham and ran it back 85 yards for a pick-6 and the first touchdown of the game. Louisville immediately responded with a field goal to make it 7-3 after a 50-yard run by Jalen Mitchell. Both teams relied heavily on the running game in this contest, with the teams totaling 81 carries combined.
UVA’s next two possessions ended with turnovers, so the only points the Hoos scored early in the game came from their defense. Louisville took the lead by a score of 10-7 early in the second half with a 36 yard run from Malik Cunningham to start the drive and then a 19 yard run for the touchdown. The Louisville quarterback had 20 carries for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns and caused a lot of trouble for the UVA defense all game. UVA tallied its first offensive touchdown of the day on an 8-yard run by quarterback Brennan Armstrong, so the score at halftime had the Hoos up 14-10.
At the start of the second half, UVA forced a turnover on downs and then converted on the good field position. Brennan Armstrong threw a 33 yard pass to Terell Jana and then later a 9 yard touchdown pass to Lavel Davis, who returned after missing the games against UNC and Miami. UVA employed a heavy running game throughout the contest, running the ball 42 times for a gain of 3.9 yards per play and only throwing the ball 23 times, but for 8.8 yards per play. The running game allowed the Hoos to slowly move the ball down the field, with several big catches by UVA receivers mixed into the drives.
After UVA scored, a 46 yard completion followed by a 1 yard touchdown run by Malik Cunningham put the Cardinals right back in the game by making the score 21-17 UVA after the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, UVA was unable to convert a 3rd and 6 in the red zone, so they settled for a 23 yard field goal from Brian Delaney. Then, the UVA defense stepped up to seal the game. Nick Grant ripped the ball out of Malik Cunningham’s hands with 8:34 remaining for an impressive fumble recovery. It looked like the Hoos might miss an opportunity to score when they had a 3rd and 9 immediately after the turnover, but Brennan Armstrong found Billy Kemp IV for a 26 yard catch to extend the drive. A few plays later, Brennan Armstrong ran the ball in for his second rushing touchdown of the day to extend the lead to 31-17. Louisville’s next possession only lasted one play, as Zane Zandier forced a fumble and Antonio Clary recovered the loose ball with 4:22 left in the game. From there, the teams traded quick possessions as Louisville couldn’t mount a comeback on a two touchdown deficit, so the Hoos took home the victory, 31-17.
Louisville actually had more total yards than Virginia by a sizable margin of 478 to 368, and Louisville also had almost double the number of rushing yards (317-165). However, UVA’s two turnovers didn’t prove as costly as Louisville’s three did, especially because two of the Cardinal turnovers came in the 4th quarter. UVA demonstrated consistency on both sides of the ball, and will look to continue that next Saturday at 4 pm against Abilene Christian University, where the Hoos can extend their winning streak to three games.
Article recap by Kathleen Boyce
Produced by Matt Newton
Select images courtesy of the ACC Network and Virginia Athletics