Football falls to Indiana, 20-16

Cavaliers come up short in rainy night game on the road

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Senior safety Juan Thornhill delivered on defense Saturday night, but it wasn't enough to secure Virginia the win.

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

After an opening game in which Virginia picked up a dominating win, little came easily for the Cavaliers (1-1) in their second week of action as Indiana defeated them 20-16.  

"Coming out here and underperforming, taking a loss on the road to a team that we feel like we matched up well against, it's frustrating," senior wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus said, "but at the same time it exposed a lot of things that we need to correct and fix.”

With weather that included pouring raining and flash flood warnings throughout the state of Indiana, the conditions certainly had an impact on the game. 

"The weather, it affected both teams, and it changed the style of play, and it took a little while, I think, to see how the game was going to be played and what you could do and what you couldn't do with the weather,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “So maybe that contributed to some of the feeling out nature of the first half."

While Virginia jumped on the scoreboard first after junior quarterback Bryce Perkins completed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Zaccheaus, the Hoosiers (2-0) came out on top in the first quarter. Indiana evened out the score to 7-7 on their first drive, and then took their first lead when Virginia fumbled while returning a kick-off, enabling the Hoosiers to pick up the ball at Virginia’s 21 and score just a few plays later. However, senior safety Juan Thornhill blocked Indiana’s extra point and ran all the way into Indiana’s end-zone for a two-point conversion. 

In the second quarter, Indiana extended its lead to 20-9, keeping Virginia’s offense from generating any success.

"I think it was a tale of two halves," Mendenhall said. "We were tentative in half one and more assertive and aggressive in half two.” 

In the second half, although the Hoosiers gained 201 yards, they were never able to get back on the scoreboard again. Meanwhile, in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were able to break Indiana’s defense when Perkins threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Chris Sharp. 

Virginia’s defense continued to fight off Indiana’s offense, with Thornhill picking up an interception, sophomore linebacker Charles Snowden blocking an Indiana field-goal attempt and sophomore safety Joey Blount getting 13 tackles, which marked a career high for him. 

The Cavaliers had one last chance in the fourth quarter when they found themselves on Indiana’s 36 with 35 seconds to play. After Indiana was called for a penalty — giving Virginia an untimed play — Perkins went for the Hail Mary. However, no one was able to make the catch and give the Cavaliers the comeback win. 

Virginia finished with just 294 yards against Indiana, with Perkins picking up 123 rushing yards, and 106 passing yards. Coming off of a game in which he rushed for a career-high 146 yards, senior running back Jordan Ellis was held to only 63 yards on 12 drives.

"I think we struggled,” Mendenhall said. “Bryce [Perkins] is very active, and so he was hard to [tackle], and he created and did a lot of things on his own. Indiana kept our run game going lateral more than downhill for a lot of the night, which mitigated some of Jordan Ellis’ effectiveness.” 

“It was just a lot of sloppy play by our offense,” Ellis added. “I feel like we really couldn't get in a rhythm like we did last week. We've got to clean that up in practice next week and get ready for the next opponent.”

Meanwhile, Indiana was able to generate success on offense with sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey completing 16 of 22 passes and freshman running back Stevie Scott rushing for 204 yards and one touchdown. 

‘We didn't think they'd be able to run the football effectively,” Mendenhall said. “And so we learned a lot about our team today. [Defensive coordinator Nick] Howell and the defensive coaches made some adjustments in the second half, but there's a lot of takeaways there we're going to have to work on."

Virginia returns back to Charlottesville for their next home game against Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 15. 

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