Mistakes doom upset-minded UVA in 41-23 loss at #1 Clemson
It wasn’t 62-17, so, improvement. But Saturday night’s 41-23 loss at #1 Clemson shows UVA still isn’t ready for prime time.
There were things for the program to hang its hat on. Virginia was the first ACC team to put up 400+ yards of total offense on the Clemson D in three years.
Trevor Lawrence had to play into the fourth quarter.
Those things being counted toward a moral victory suck, bluntly.
Brennan Armstrong had his moments in his second career start, throwing for 270 yards and three TDs, adding 89 yards on the ground.
A bad second quarter interception set up a short field that allowed Clemson (3-0) to go up 24-3.
Armstrong answered with a quick four-play, 65-yard drive, culminating in a 23-yard TD pass to Terrell Jana, that made it 24-10 at the break.
UVA (1-1), having deferred after winning the opening toss, got the ball to start the second half, and Armstrong extended the drive with a 31-yard pass to 6’7” freshman wideout Lavel Davis Jr. on a third-and-seven play at midfield.
On the next play, Armstrong underthrew a fade intended for Davis, and Clemson’s Andrew Booth, channeling his inner OBJ, picked it off, one-handed, in the end zone, ending the threat.
After a Clemson field goal extended the lead, UVA struck again, on a 3-yard TD pass from Armstrong to backup QB Keytaon Thompson, in the game as a tight end, cutting the margin to 27-17 with 6:05 left in the third.
Clemson scored on its next possession, on a 4-yard TD pass from Lawrence to tailback Travis Etienne, to go back up 34-17, and a Chez Mellusi 2-yard TD run with 5:27 left in the game put the game out of reach.
UVA closed out the scoring on a 5-yard TD pass from Armstrong to tight end Tony Poljan with 1:11 to go.
Virginia finished with 417 yards of total offense, which, nice.
You could argue that the final margin was skewed by the INT that set up the short Clemson drive, and the INT that snuffed out a UVA scoring drive.
Clemson didn’t turn the ball over, was 8-of-15 on third downs, got 329 yards passing from Lawrence (25-of-38, three TDs), got 73 yards on 14 carries from Etienne, who also had 114 yards on five catches.
You’ve got to play a perfect game to beat #1 on the road.
Virginia was … close.
The ‘Hoos had 417 yards total offense, a 33:17-to-26:43 advantage in time of possession, an 81-to-70 advantage in snaps, just one penalty.
The two INTs represented a 17-point swing in a game decided by 18 – the other point in the margin coming because Virginia went for two after its final score, with the outcome decided.
Good teams take advantage of opponents’ mistakes.
Teams that aspire to be good teams play their asses off, make a couple of mistakes, lose, and lament.
Story by Chris Graham