No. 25 Virginia beats Florida State 31-24 in front of packed crowd

Perkins’ 341 total yards keep Cavaliers on top of the ACC Coastal

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Senior quarterback Bryce Perkins had 341 total yards of offense as the Cavaliers outlast the Seminoles.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

No. 25 Virginia football continued its hot start to 2019, defeating ACC foe Florida State and improving to 3-0 Saturday night at Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers (3-0, 2-0 ACC) defeated the Seminoles (1-2, 0-1 ACC) 31-24 as sophomore tailback Wayne Taulapapa’s three touchdowns made up for a slow start.

“I love Wayne — his heart, his consistency, his trustworthiness, how physical he is, how mature he is,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “The combination between him and Bryce [Perkins] in the short-yardage situations, they just wouldn’t be stopped.”

While the two teams started fast on offense, neither scored on their first drives. Both quarterbacks made mistakes — Virginia senior quarterback Bryce Perkins gave up his third interception of the season and the Seminoles’ sophomore quarterback James Blackman threw three consecutive incomplete passes as Florida State’s drive stalled in its own half.

After four straight defensive stops, the Cavaliers finally broke the deadlock as junior kicker Brian Delaney connected on a career-long 49-yard field goal to give Virginia a 3-0 lead. 

Despite not scoring in the first quarter, the Seminoles got on the board early in the second quarter as Blackman threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to give the visiting team the advantage after forcing a Virginia punt deep in its own half.

Florida State’s lead didn’t last long, however, as Virginia responded on the very next drive with its first touchdown of the game. A 75-yard drive led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Taulapapa.

Just before halftime, the Seminoles retook the lead as their go-to player on offense — junior running back Cam Akers — caught a short touchdown pass. Akers’ score gave the Seminoles a 14-10 lead — the Cavaliers’ second consecutive halftime deficit in an ACC game.

Florida State extended its lead in the middle of the third quarter with a 53-yard field goal by senior kicker Ricky Aguayo, tying his career-long. 

With Virginia struggling to generate offense in the third quarter, Perkins and senior wide receiver Joe Reed came to the rescue, connecting on a 12-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The score was the Cavaliers’ first since midway through the second quarter and tied the game at 17-17. 

After the Seminoles came right back and drove 75 yards for a touchdown in just 2:33, Virginia put together a drive of its own finished off by a Taulapapa touchdown run, but Delaney’s missed extra point meant that the Cavaliers still trailed 24-23.

After a defensive stop and a couple of big plays, Virginia was back in the red zone with Taulapapa finishing off yet another drive. Perkins converted the two-point attempt to give the Cavaliers a 31-24 lead, which they hold onto for the remainder of the game. 

Perkins had a standout performance, recording 341 total yards and making key plays both on the ground and in the air.

“I’m really pleased with Bryce,” Mendenhall said. “The way he played and led our team, the two-point conversion.”

With the win, the Cavaliers earned their first 3-0 start to a season since 2005. With tougher opponents coming up on their schedule, the Cavaliers will need to keep up the momentum if they want to remain undefeated. 

Virginia next hosts Old Dominion Saturday, Sept. 21 at Scott Stadium. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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