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Maligned Louisville defense stifles UVA in 28-21 ACC upset win

uva footballA resurgent Louisville football team moved to within one win of bowl eligibility with a 28-21 win over the suddenly struggling Virginia Cavaliers Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals’ win was sparked by a much-maligned defense that had posted some less-than-stellar numbers on the season, especially during Atlantic Coast Conference action.

Louisville forced two Virginia turnovers, picked off Cavalier quarterback Bryce Perkins once, including what may have been a game-changing pick late in the first half near their own goal line as UVA was threatening to make it a two-score game.

Virginia, leading 14-7, was in the midst of an impressive offensive drive that began on the Cavalier 39 at about the four-minute mark of the second quarter. Led by two crisp passes from Perkins to Hasise Dubois that accounted for 24 yards and two more curl-route completions to Terell Jana, the Cavaliers moved to just inside the Louisville 20.

Then the Cardinals defense made a play that ultimately may have shifted the momentum of the game. Perkins, again looking for a curl route to Jana, was picked off by Louisville’s Mike Jones at the 8, stifling the Virginia drive, and trailed only 14-7 at the break.

Louisville’s defense made life miserable for Virginia and Perkins throughout the contest, keeping the Cavalier signal-caller off balance with a relentless pass rush.

Perkins was sacked three times in the game, but faced constant pressure by the Cardinals, resulting in errant passes. For the game, Louisville was credited for seven quarterback hurries.

Virginia’s running game was for certain a tale of two halves. Led by running back Wayne Taulapapa, who had eight carries for 51 yards in first-half action, the running game was all-but-forgotten after intermission, with Taulapapa carrying the ball just three times for nine yards.

Perkins had 11 second-half runs, but netted only 22 yards after a total of 34 total yards lost.

Virginia’s nightmare second half was mainly the result of a brutal third quarter of play. The misery started for the Cavaliers when senior linebacker Jordan Mack was tossed from the game after a targeting penalty at the seven-minute mark of the quarter.

Mack had previously drawn a targeting penalty in the first half, but avoided disqualification after a replay review. After Mack’s removal, the Cavalier defensive effort disappeared as well.

Virginia’s suddenly inept offense picked up just one first down in the third quarter, and their three possessions resulted in two punts and a lost fumble on their own 34.

Virginia lost for the third straight time on the road, and is now 3-2 in the ACC Coastal Division, 5-2 overall. The road-weary Cavaliers travel to Chapel Hill next Saturday night to face North Carolina.

Story by Scott German


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