The Virginia Cavaliers took to the road to play their tenth game of the season, taking on #11 Louisville. Coming into the game, Virginia was looking to recover from a crushing loss to Georgia Tech, while Louisville was looking to stay in the top 15 and continue their march towards a high bowl game.
The first half was one of defensive fireworks. Anthony Colandrea, the freshman QB out of Florida, got the nod as Tony Muskett suffered a high ankle sprain last week; Virginia had little ability to advance the football. Louisville was able to show off their top-ranked defense, collapsing the pocket on what seemed like every play. Colandrea, a very mobile quarterback, wasn’t able to escape the pressure.
The Louisville offense was more successful, but not by a large margin. The Cardinals finished the first half with 14 points. Running back Jawhar Jordan hit a long run on their first scoring drive which was finished with an easy pass to Joey Gatewood from Jack Plummer. The second score was a special teams strike. The Louisville defense pinned Virginia deep and forced a punt. Daniel Sparks was then blocked in the Cavalier endzone and Louisville recovered for the touchdown. While Louisville did find the endzone twice in the first half, it could have been far more often, if not for some big plays at the right moments by the cavalier defense.
The second half told a different story for the Wahoos offense led by Colandrea’s run game, two big runs from him got the Cavaliers down the field in a hurry. Offensive coordinator Des Kitchings finished the drive with some brilliant playcalling. UVA punched it in on a fake QB sneak from the one-yard line. The Wahoo defense came up large on the next play following the score. Freshman Kam Robinson picked off Jack Plummer and took it to the house for a pick-six and tie ball game. Virginia’s defense would have a great stand to get the ball back to the offense. Once again, Colandrea would use his feet well and kickstart the drive. The next play was a broken one with Perris Jones grabbing a short pass and then fumbling, then who else but star WR Malik Washington would scoop and score to make it 21-14.
The 4th quarter started in a much more defensive style for both teams. Virginia and Louisville were able to trade field goals in the first half of the 4th quarter from Will Bettridge and Brock Travelstead respectively to advance the score to 24-17. With a 7-point lead and seven minutes left in the game, this was Virginia’s game to close out, sadly Louisville had something to say about that. Jack Plummer connected 52 yards downfield with Ahmari Huggins-Bruce to tie up the game, and then the Cardinals struck again to take the lead. This time a long 70+ yard run from Isaac Guerendo to make it 31-24 and close out the Cavaliers.
Once again, Virginia played well but could not finish. The team ended with over 400 yards of offense, with about 300 coming in the air. Malik Washington and Anthony Colandrea certainly came to play, showing off the future of what Virginia could be. Virginia did suffer eight penalties for 100 yards and lost a fumble, things that the coaching staff surely is not happy about. 6th-year starting RB Perris Jones also suffered an injury and had to be carted off the field, a major setback for this Cavalier squad. This game marks yet another very close loss in the 2-8 season. This team is certainly better than this record shows, but once again when the moment was biggest and the lights were brightest, they could not get it done.
Virginia will move on to face off against rival Duke on Saturday the 18th at 3 p.m. Duke is a strong football team with a very capable offense. Starting QB Riley Leonard did suffer a toe injury and is likely to return to start against UVA. This intense school rivalry should translate into an exciting game, especially if Virginia can translate their road performances to Scott Stadium.