Oct 16, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Duke Blue Devils cornerback Josh Blackwell (31) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks (3) during the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong leads Virginia blowout of Duke

Brennan Armstrong threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another as Virginia crushed visiting Duke 48-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va.

The Cavaliers (5-2, 3-2 ACC) have won three games in a row, though the first two of the streak came by a total of three points.

Armstrong completed 25 of 45 passes for 364 yards without an interception.

Mataeo Durant gained 82 yards on 17 carries for Duke (3-4, 0-3), which has lost three straight. This came after his school-record 43 carries a week earlier against Georgia Tech.

Gunnar Holmberg completed 20 of 34 passes for 134 yards with two picks and the Blue Devils were outgained by a 528-325 margin.

Virginia produced 24 second-quarter points on the way to a 34-0 halftime edge. The last points came on Armstrong’s 7-yard pass to Jelani Woods with five seconds left in the half following a Holmberg interception.

All of Virginia’s first-half touchdown drives consisted of at least eight plays, plus there was an 11-play march that resulted in a field goal.

The longest scoring play came on Virginia’s first touchdown when Armstrong hooked up with Dontayvion Wicks on a 20-yard play. Wicks finished with 125 receiving yards on seven catches.

Duke committed two turnovers in the first half, when the Blue Devils were also damaged by penalties and dropped passes. They had their best scoring chance on their first possession but came up empty as Matt Alswanger missed a 25-yard field goal attempt when the ball bounced off the upright.

Duke reached the Virginia 18-yard line in the third quarter before stalling.

Keytaon Thompson, Devin Darrington and Ronnie Walker Jr. all ran for Virginia touchdowns. Brendan Farrell kicked field goals from 31 and 34 yards.

Darrington finished with a team-high 60 rushing yards on five attempts.

Virginia has won seven consecutive meetings with Duke.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, Duke Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant (21) runs the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the third quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Duke, Virginia stars take center stage for ACC matchup

It’s clear that Duke and Virginia rely on a couple of players for much of their offense.

So, who holds up better between Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant and Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong could factor into the outcome when the Atlantic Coast Conference teams meet Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va.

Virginia (4-2, 2-2 ACC) enters the game after two thrilling road wins — 30-28 over Miami and 34-33 over Louisville.

Last Saturday against the Cardinals, the Cavaliers rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter.

Armstrong, who completed 40 of 60 passes for 487 yards and three touchdowns, was a focal point of that success. The yardage total was the second highest in school history, surpassed only by his 554 yards in a September loss at North Carolina.

“You think you’re going to win just because he thinks he’s going to win no matter what the circumstances,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “He’s just a fierce competitor.”

Duke (3-3, 0-2) is trying to shake off a two-game skid following a 31-27 home loss to Georgia Tech last Saturday. The Blue Devils are aware of what Armstrong has been up to the past several weeks.

“We know we’re playing a conference of quarterbacks, so we’re going to (face) a talented offense every week,” Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter said. “It’s a new challenge every single week.”

Armstrong has thrown 284 passes this season, with 17 touchdowns. He also has been picked off six times.

Duke’s defense has intercepted two passes in three different games this season.

The Cavaliers like how Armstrong has worked through any struggles.

“It’s really hard to get him down, just because of his go-go-go attitude,” Virginia tight end Grant Misch said.

Durant’s 152 rushing yards in the Georgia Tech game came on a school-record 43 carries. The output also pushed Durant, a senior, to more than 2,000 rushing yards for his career.

The Blue Devils rallied from 14 down before falling to the Yellow Jackets.

“That shows how potent our offense can be at any time,” Durant said.

This will be Duke’s first out-of-state trip of the season. The Blue Devils have lost their lone road games, to Charlotte and to North Carolina.

“Our football team is doing a lot of good things,” coach David Cutcliffe said. “It is my job to make sure that we don’t minimize all those good things. We need to maximize all of those opportunities.”

Virginia has won six straight meetings against Duke. Because of last year’s pandemic-related schedule adjustments, this marks the third year in a row the teams will face off in Charlottesville.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks (3) runs the ball against Louisville Cardinals linebacker C.J. Avery (9) during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia uses frantic comeback to nip Louisville

Brennan Armstrong’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Grant Misch with 22 seconds remaining lifted Virginia to a 34-33 comeback victory over host Louisville on Saturday.

The Cavaliers rallied from a 30-13 fourth-quarter deficit by scoring three touchdowns in the final 12:40 behind a huge performance from Armstrong, who went 40-of-60 passing for 487 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ra’Shaun Henry had nine receptions for 179 yards for the Cavaliers (4-2, 2-2 ACC).

Armstrong’s performance overshadowed Louisville running back Hassan Hall, who rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Malik Cunningham went 17-of-25 passing for 270 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Harrell had two catches for 100 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinals (3-3, 1-2).

Trailing 33-27 following a Louisville field goal, Armstrong needed just two minutes to drive the Cavaliers down the field and find Misch running across the back of the end zone to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive.

The Cardinals had a chance to win the game, but James Turner’s 49-yard field goal as time expired sailed wide left.

After Louisville outscored Virginia 20-0 in the third quarter to take a 30-13 lead, the Cavaliers pulled to within 30-27 by scoring twice in less than a five-minute span in the fourth quarter. Keytaon Thompson scored on a 5-yard run with 12:40 left before Armstrong hit Jelani Woods for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 7:49 remaining.

The Cavaliers got the ball back on their 35-yard line with 4:24 left, but they failed to get a first down and had to punt. Louisville responded with Turner’s fourth field goal of the game, a 40-yarder, with 2:22 left.

Trailing 13-10 at halftime, Louisville opened the third quarter when Hall burst up the middle for a 52-yard touchdown run and a 17-13 lead less than three minutes into the second half.

The Cardinals pushed their lead to 20-13 on a 28-yard field goal by Turner midway through the third quarter after taking over at Virginia’s 25-yard line following an interception.

Mitchell’s 3-yard run extended the lead to 27-13 with 4:02 left in the third quarter. After Louisville got the ball back following Kendrick Duncan’s interception on Virginia’s next series,

Turner’s third field goal of the game made it 30-13 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) attempts a pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia escapes with victory as Miami misses winning kick

With two seconds left in the game, true freshman Andres Borregales missed a 33-yard field-goal attempt that bounced off the left upright, helping the Virginia Cavaliers escape with a 30-28 upset win over the Miami Hurricanes in an ACC game in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Thursday night.

Quarterback Brennan Armstrong led Virginia (3-2, 1-2) by passing for 268 yards and one touchdown with one interception.

The Cavaliers’ most sensational play was a 36-yard TD catch by Dontayvion Wicks. The play looked like it would be an interception by Marcus Clarke, but the ball went through his hands and bounced off the back of Wicks, who was on the ground. Wicks then turned around and snagged the ball with his right hand.

Virginia, a four-point underdog, won in Miami for the first time since 2011.

The Hurricanes (2-3, 0-1) dropped three would-be interceptions, including two in the end zone.

Miami played its second straight game without quarterback D’Eriq King, who has an injured throwing shoulder.

Second-year freshman Tyler Van Dyke started his second collegiate game and completed 15-of-29 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for a score.

Cam’Ron Harris rushed for two TDs and 111 yards for Miami.

The Cavaliers led 9-0 after the first quarter.

Virginia opened the scoring on Wayne Taulapapa’s 1-yard run, capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Three plays prior to that, Miami safety Kamren Kinchens got both hands on the ball but failed to secure an interception.

The Cavaliers added a safety when Mandy Alonso stuffed a Harris running play in the end zone.

Miami closed its deficit to 9-7 with 2:30 left in the second quarter as Harris jumped over the pile for a 1-yard score. That TD was set up by Van Dyke’s 36-yard deep shot to Charleston Rambo.

Virginia came right back with an 80-yard drive that culminated in Mike Hollins’ 25-yard run, giving the Cavs a 16-7 lead with 50 seconds left in the first half.

The third quarter started with a 43-yard field goal by Virginia’s Brendan Farrell.

Miami middle linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. dropped into coverage and intercepted Armstrong on Virginia’s next drive. That led to a 16-yard TD throw by Van Dyke, who lofted his throw toward the left corner of the end zone to Mike Harley on third-and-8.

However, the Wicks TD and a two-point run by Taulapapa gave Virginia a 27-14 lead.

Harris closed the third-quarter scoring with a 57-yard run.

After Keytaon Thompson — playing with a cast on his left hand — dropped a pass in the end zone, Virginia settled for Farrell’s 30-yard field goal and a 30-21 lead with 12:52 left in the fourth.

On Miami’s next possession, Van Dyke scored on a 24-yard scramble.

Van Dyke then led a 15-play, 75-yard drive to set up a would-be winning field goal, but Borregales missed.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass near the end of the second quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia aims for rebound performance vs. Wake Forest

It is too soon for one setback to derail Virginia’s plans for the season.

But the Cavaliers would be wise for a strong bounce-back outing when Wake Forest visits for Friday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference game in Charlottesville, Va.

Wake Forest (3-0, 1-0 ACC) certainly has big plans after three convincing outcomes. The Demon Deacons are 3-0 for the fourth time in a six-season stretch.

“We’re going to need more of this as we move forward toward a very good Virginia team,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

Virginia (2-1, 0-1) is reeling after a 59-39 setback at No. 21 North Carolina, a result that came despite quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s school-record 554 passing yards Saturday night.

“The clock is ticking,” Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “It’s a fast turnaround.”

Armstrong has thrown for 11 touchdowns with two interceptions this season. He’s the first Virginia quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in three consecutive games.

“We needed to give him more support defensively,” Mendenhall said.

The problem for Virginia in the North Carolina game was that it allowed 699 yards of total offense.

“Put it behind us and go attack this week,” Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson said.

Yet the Cavaliers, who never before lost an ACC opener under Mendenhall, don’t see all their goals off the board.

“It’s not going to stop us,” Armstrong said. “You can’t dwell on it. It can’t ruin your season. There’s a long, long way to go.”

Wake Forest has already topped two opponents from the state of Virginia, drubbing Old Dominion and Norfolk State before defeating Florida State last week to open ACC play.

Clawson said the Demon Deacons put forth a stellar effort on the defensive side, something that will be needed against a Virginia team that has racked up at least 39 points in each game.

Virginia will have to play the first half versus Wake Forest without safety Coen King, who was ejected in the second half at North Carolina because of targeting. Safety Joey Blount should be available after exiting Saturday night with a collarbone injury, Mendenhall said Monday. However, running back Wayne Taulapapa began the week in the concussion protocol.

Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba has converted on 16 consecutive field-goal attempts for the longest active mark in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Earlier in his career, he connected on 34 consecutive field goals for an NCAA record.

Wake Forest has won its last four meetings with the Cavaliers, including last season’s 40-23 home result, for its longest winning streak in the series. The Demon Deacons scored the final 17 points of the 2020 matchup. Armstrong didn’t play in that game.

It will be Wake Forest’s second game on a Friday night this season after opening against Old Dominion.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) passes the ball as Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Jartavius Martin (21) watches in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong fires 5 TDs as Virginia rips Illinois

Brennan Armstrong threw for a career-high 405 passing yards and five touchdowns to lift host Virginia to a 42-14 victory over Illinois on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

Armstrong, who completed 27 of 36 passes and even had an 18-yard reception, tossed a pair of first-half scoring strikes to Dontayvion Wicks and one to tight end Jelani Woods (five catches, 122 yards). Billy Kemp IV reeled in a touchdown pass in the third quarter and Wayne Taulapapa did the same in the fourth for Virginia (2-0, 0-0 ACC).

Armstrong overcame a scare after he appeared to tweak his right knee following a hit during the third quarter. He did not miss a play on the scoring drive and returned wearing a knee brace on the next possession.

Artur Sitkowski threw for one touchdown and Chase Brown rushed for another for the Fighting Illini (1-2, 1-0 Big Ten), who have dropped two in a row.

Armstrong got off to a fast start by throwing for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone.

Armstrong found Woods for a 31-yard reception on the opening drive before the pair hooked up again for a 32-yard touchdown to give Virginia a 7-0 lead.

Illinois went three-and-out on its first possession and Armstrong completed passes to Ra’Shaun Henry and Kemp before connecting with Wicks for a 28-yard touchdown.

The Illini halved the deficit early in the second quarter as Sitkowski found Deuce Spann for a 33-yard touchdown pass.

Virginia, which saw its momentum slowed by a pair of missed field goals, regained its two-touchdown advantage late in the second quarter. Armstrong connected with a wide-open Wicks for a 6-yard score with 1:17 left.

Brown scampered 21 yards around the right side on Illinois’ opening possession of the second half to trim the Cavaliers’ lead to 21-14.

Virginia responded on its ensuing possession, with Kemp going in motion before snaring a swing pass from Armstrong for a 2-yard score.

Keytaon Thompson lined up at quarterback and reached the end zone from 8 yards out before Armstrong found Taulapapa for a 3-yard touchdown pass to cap the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

No introductions needed as Virginia faces William & Mary

Familiarity is the theme as Virginia hosts William & Mary in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night in Charlottesville, Va.

Not only are both sides loaded with returning starters and veteran players, the coaching staffs for the Cavaliers of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Tribe of the Colonial Athletic Association also share multiple connections.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall enters his sixth year at Virginia with a 30-32 record, including 5-5 last season. On offense, he returns eight players with 10 or more starts as well as the players who produced 82 percent of the total offense from 2020. Six players on the defensive side have made at least 20 starts.

Mendenhall’s predecessor at UVA is Mike London, who is starting his third season in charge at William & Mary. He is 6-9 overall with the Tribe, including 1-2 last spring after the pandemic wiped out the fall slate. London, who was 27-46 in six seasons with the Cavaliers (2010-15), returns all of his starters on both sides of the ball.

London’s coaching staff includes former Virginia assistant Vincent Brown and former Cavaliers players Gordon Sammis, Matt Johns, Ras-I Dowling, Keenan Carter and Darryl Blackstock.

“I think what Coach London has done at William & Mary, it makes complete sense to me,” Mendenhall said of having so many former Virginia players as coaches. “It’s the exact model that I believe in and will continue to. I love hiring from within and building from within.”

Virginia, picked to finish fifth in the ACC Coastal Division in the preseason poll, is led by quarterback Brennan Armstrong, running back Wayne Taulapapa, wide receiver Billy Kemp IV and the versatile Keytaon Thompson, who lined up at QB, RB and WR last year.

Quarterback Hollis Mathis and running back Malachi Imoh lead W&M, picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA.

“I feel good about the talent of this team, about the depth of this team, about seniority, about the leadership,” London said. “There are a lot of positive things coming out of the spring to the summer and going into the fall.”

Virginia is 30-6-1 in the all-time series and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings, including 52-17 in the most recent clash on Sept. 6, 2019. William & Mary’s last win in the in-state rivalry was in 2009.

–Field Level Media