Football travels to take on Indiana

The Cavaliers hit the road looking to avenge 2017 loss

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Senior running back Jordan Ellis gained a career-high 146 yards on the ground against Richmond.

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

Virginia football started the season with a decisive win over in-state foe Richmond, 42-13 at Scott Stadium Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (1-0) were firing on all cylinders Saturday, with 492 yards of total offense and only 6 points allowed on defense.

Led by junior transfer quarterback Bryce Perkins, the offense caught fire after some initial hiccups.

Perkins started off with a pick six, putting Richmond (0-1) up 7-0, but he responded with fire, leading Virginia on a 35-3 run that put the game out of reach.

“After that first pick, we got it out, came up to the sideline, took a deep breath and said ‘I got it out now — let’s just go play,” Perkins said. 

Perkins gained 293 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, using his commanding explosiveness to drive Virginia. Senior running back Jordan Ellis was also crucial in the rushing attack, gaining a career-high 146 yards on the ground. Senior wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus led the aerial attack, coming up with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown.

The defense was stingy, with an especially strong showing from the Cavalier secondary. Junior cornerback Bryce Hall led the team in tackles with six, including a sack. Sophomore safeties Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson had interceptions.

But there was still room to improve, and Virginia will certainly need to make adjustments before they take on Big Ten competition Saturday.

“This was the expectation, to come in here and win — not only win, but dominate,” Zaccheaus said. “We hold ourselves to a new standard, as we’ve been saying, and that was the expectation… We’ve just got to move forward and prepare for Indiana.”

Indiana (1-0) will be Virginia’s first real challenge, after the Cavaliers cruised past FCS opponent Richmond.

This will be the fourth time in nine years that Virginia plays Indiana. The last time the Cavaliers traveled to Memorial Stadium in 2011, a game-winning field goal by kicker Robert Randolph saw Virginia win 34-31 in dramatic fashion.

The Hoosiers boast a high-powered offense, led by sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who saw his first on-field action in an Indiana uniform against the Cavaliers last year.

Ramsey, like Perkins, is a dual-threat quarterback. Last year, after Indiana was stifled the first quarter and a half, Ramsey came in and torched the Virginia defense with three touchdowns, leading the Hoosiers to a 34-17 win.

“[Ramsey is a] quarterback that can extend plays, and like much of college football now, the quarterback position is the catalyst for not only yards through the air but yards on the ground,” Virginia Coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Indiana is not a Big Ten juggernaut, however. After beating Virginia last season, they started 0-6 in conference play before picking up wins against Illinois and Rutgers. They were not bowl eligible, finishing 5-7.

The Hoosiers present a very different challenge from Richmond, though. In their first contest, they beat Florida International 38-28, cruising past the Panthers. Ramsey was clicking on all cylinders, passing for three scores.

Indiana’s defense also created havoc, forcing three turnovers in the first half alone — one of which was a pick six. The Hoosiers, in their second full year under Coach Tom Allen, look battle-ready.

“Under a new head coach, year two always seems to bring some momentum, brings a little bit more clarity… Their defense is more consistent in terms of their identity,” Mendenhall said. “I just think it's becoming clearer who they want to be and why.”

The Cavaliers will need a different edge to go on the road and beat a power five opponent.

Virginia’s defense will be challenged by Indiana’s dual-threat attack, and needs an experienced linebacker core — especially senior captain Chris Peace, senior Malcolm Cook and junior Jordan Mack — to step up to stop Ramsey.

Look for a high-scoring contest under the lights Saturday night in Bloomington, with Perkins and company put to their first real test. The Cavaliers seek out their first 2-0 start since 2012. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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