Armstrong rallies UVA to improbable 34-33 win at Louisville

brennan armstrong
Brennan Armstrong. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Brennan Armstrong threw two third quarter INTs, Louisville had a 30-13 lead after three, this might be the day to finally jump off the Bronco Mendenhall bandwagon.

Wait, being told now that Armstrong threw for 183 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter, and UVA somehow came back and won.

That.

Just.

Happened.

Armstrong, all told, threw for 487 yards and three TDs, overcoming that awful third quarter, completing the comeback by connecting with Grant Misch on a 1-yard TD pass with 22 seconds left that lifted Virginia (4-2, 2-2 ACC) to an improbable 34-33 win on Saturday.

This one looked so familiar for so long. Louisville (3-3, 1-2 ACC) scored on its first play from scrimmage, on a 92-yard pass from Malik Cunningham to Tyler Harrell.

There were so many big plays. Hassan Hall scored on a 52-yard run on the Cardinals’ first possession of the second half to put Louisville on top, 17-13.

Then the two BA INTs, which could have been disastrous, if not for the UVA D bowing up and holding Louisville to James Turner field goals after both.

That’s why it was only 30-13 entering the fourth, though it didn’t seem at the turn toward the final 15 that we were headed anywhere interesting.

Armstrong hit Keytaon Thompson for 15 yards on third-and-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter to keep that drive alive.

KT would score later in the drive on a 5-yard run to get the score to 30-20 with 12:40 left.

The Virginia defense forced a three-and-out, and Armstrong led UVA on a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 3-yard TD pass from Armstrong to Jelani Woods that got it to 30-27 with 7:49 to go.

OK, now things are getting interesting.

The teams traded three-and-outs, then Louisville had a chance to put it away. Hall broke a second-and-5 run for 53 yards, and it could have been more, if Darrius Bratton wouldn’t have run down Hall from behind.

Louisville tried bleeding clock to force Bronco Mendenhall to burn his timeouts, and ended up needing to settle for another Turner field goal, his fourth of the game, to go up 33-27 with 2:22 to go.

Armstrong had the ball, and one last chance.

He hit Billy Kemp IV for 17 yards on fourth-and-6 to keep the chains moving, then found Thompson for 17 to get the ball into Cardinals territory.

On another fourth down, fourth-and-8, from the UL 35, Armstrong found KT for 16 yards at the 19 for another first down.

After clocking the ball, Armstrong and Thompson connected again on what was initially ruled a 19-yard TD pass, but replay revealed KT down at the 1 with 26 seconds left.

On the next play, Armstrong hooked up with Misch, and the Brendan Farrell extra point put UVA on top.

Louisville was not done, though. Cunningham drove the Cardinals to the UVA 31 with three seconds left, but Turner’s kick sailed wide left.

That’s two straight weeks with the game coming down to a missed kick, and two wins.

Credit to Armstrong for bouncing back from his ugly third quarter – he was 6-of-12 for 30 yards and two INTs in the third.

Credit to Bratton for not giving up on the big run by Hall. If Hall scores on that long run, it’s game over.

The 3-3-5 defense continues to get exploited. Louisville gained 503 yards. Cunningham was 17-of-25 for 270 yards and a TD; Hall ran for 162 yards on 14 carries.

The offense still can’t run the ball. The ‘Hoos put up 522 yards of total offense, but only gained 35 on the ground. Adjusting for sack yardage, it was still only 66.

Wayne Taulapapa ran for 42 yards on 10 carries. Mike Hollins, who left in the third quarter with a lower-leg injury, had nine yards on three carries.

That’s it for the stable of running backs on the day.

The inability to get tough yards on the ground reared its head again in the red zone in the first half, when Virginia had to settle for two short Farrell field goals.

Enough with the criticism. The big days came for the guys who catch the ball. Ra’Shaun Henry had nine catches on 12 targets for 179 yards; Thompson had nine catches on 15 targets for 134 yards.

Kemp also had nine catches, on 11 targets, for 64 yards and a TD.

The tight ends, Woods and Misch, had three catches between them, but two of them were fourth-quarter touchdowns.

No sacks for the defense, which was in tackles by Coen King, who had eight, including a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Nick Jackson, Antonio Clary and Noah Taylor each had seven tackles.

Farrell was 2-of-3 on field-goal tries and 4-for-4 on extra points.

Punter Jacob Finn had an off-day, averaging 38.8 yards on his four punts.

Next up for Virginia: Duke (3-3, 0-2 ACC), which lost 31-27 to Georgia Tech early Saturday.

Story by Chris Graham


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