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No. 18 Virginia survives scare against Old Dominion, 28-17

The Cavaliers needed all four quarters to best the Monarchs in the teams’ first meeting

<p>Junior linebacker Charles Snowden led the Virginia defense with 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks.</p>

Junior linebacker Charles Snowden led the Virginia defense with 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks.

No. 18 Virginia beat Old Dominion 28-17 Saturday night at Scott Stadium to remain undefeated, scoring 28 unanswered points en route to victory.

“Playing from behind is a challenge, and we pulled off the comeback,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

After a shaky first half in which the Monarchs (1-2, 0-0 CUSA) outgained the Cavaliers (4-0, 2-0 ACC) in total yards 224-66, Virginia outgained Old Dominion 178-46 in the second half. The Cavaliers used a strong defensive effort to stymie the Monarchs’ upset bid. Junior linebacker Charles Snowden led the way with 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks. 

“Charles Snowden — the number and volume of plays he made was significant,” Mendenhall said.

Old Dominion got off to a fast start. The Monarchs marched down the field on their first drive but were forced to settle for a field goal. The subsequent drive, however, they got in the end zone on a sneak by junior quarterback Stone Smartt to go up 10-0 late in the first quarter.

The Monarchs dominated the first quarter, beating the Cavaliers in total yards 107 to 18. It didn’t stop there. They started off the second quarter by leading another touchdown drive, as Smartt threw a pass outside that led to a 47-yard touchdown. Smartt finished with 179 yards passing in the first half.

Senior wide receiver Joe Reed got the Cavaliers’ offense going with a 57-yard kickoff return that led to Virginia’s first touchdown of the night. Perkins got in on an eight-yard scramble into the end zone to make it 17-7 Old Dominion.

Virginia didn’t get its first defensive stop until 4:35 left in the second quarter. Senior linebacker Jordan Mack helped the defense get off the field quickly — his sack forced a three-and-out. Mack co-leads the nation’s linebackers with seven sacks.

The first half ended 17-7, with neither team able to get any more points on the board after Virginia’s first touchdown.

The Cavaliers started the second half with the ball, but saw their first drive stall out at midfield.

Virginia’s defense, however, had the answer. After pressuring Smartt multiple times, Snowden forced him into the interception, which junior linebacker Zane Zandier took in for the easy score. Zandier’s first career interception cut the Monarchs’ lead to three.

The Cavaliers’ offense initially failed to capitalize on the momentum generated by the defense.

The special teams unit, however, forced a defensive offsides penalty to prolong the drive. Perkins connected on an impressive 34-yard pass to junior tailback Lamont Atkins to get the Cavaliers in Monarchs’ territory. After that, though, Virginia was stopped on third down and junior kicker Brian Delaney’s field goal attempt was blocked.

The defense stepped up again, this time shutting down the Monarchs on 4th and 1 in their half of the field to set the offense up with great field position. Perkins and company delivered, with sophomore running back Wayne Taulapapa taking it in for the score. Taulapapa’s fifth touchdown of the season gave Virginia its first lead of the game, 21-17.

That got the offense going. The next drive — after yet another stop on defense — Perkins connected with Reed on a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-17. Reed displayed his agility on the play, juking the defender to make his way into the end zone.

Virginia fans had a brief scare late in the game with Perkins going down, but he got back up and helped the Cavaliers coast to victory.

Next up for Virginia is No. 10 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday afternoon.