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Virginia football outpaces Boston College 43-32

While the Cavalier defense allowed 520 yards in the air to Eagle back-up junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, the offense fired on all six cylinders

<p>The Cavaliers had yet another big day offensively, exploding for 549 total yards.&nbsp;</p>

The Cavaliers had yet another big day offensively, exploding for 549 total yards. 

On Senior Day at Scott Stadium, Virginia football came out on top, defeating Boston College 43-32. The Cavaliers (5-4, 4-4 ACC) rode to victory on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s 417 total yards, as the Eagles (6-5, 5-5 ACC) found no answer for Armstrong’s tough-nosed running. The win marked Virginia’s first ever win over Boston College, dating back to the squads’ first meeting in 1963. 

“I'm so thrilled for our class of 2017,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I'm so thankful and so proud of how they played at Scott Stadium. I’m thankful for their contributions in our program; the progress, the determination and the example – just basically who they are and who they’ve become.”

Prior to the game, a total of six Virginia student-athletes were announced as out of the game due to COVID-19 isolation or quarantine. Notably, Boston College sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec was announced as unavailable due to an injury he suffered in the Eagles’ nail-biting win against Louisville. 

After a quick three-and-out from the Eagles, the Cavaliers got on the board first with a 38-yard field goal from senior kicker Brian Delaney. 

Boston College would respond in a resounding manner, however. Recognizing that the Cavaliers were expecting a heavy rushing attack due to the injury to Jurkovec, Eagles’ Coach Jeff Hafley put the ball in the hands of Boston College junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who started seven games for the Eagles in 2019. Grosel immediately assured Hafley that his trust wasn’t misplaced, as he led Boston College on a 10-play, 88-yard drive capped by a 45-yard pass from Grosel to sophomore wide receiver Zay Flowers for six points. 

While the Cavaliers weren’t able to find the endzone on their next drive, Delaney converted a 26-yard field goal to narrow the Eagles’ lead to one. After a set of failed drives by both teams, the Virginia defense found their break, as senior cornerback De’Vante Cross intercepted Grosel at the Cavalier five-yard line. Not detracted by the poor field position, Armstrong led Virginia 95 yards down the field, finding senior wide receiver Ra’Shaun Henry for a 47-yard touchdown pass and giving the Cavaliers a 13-7 lead. 

Following a three-and-out from the Eagles, Virginia swiftly extended their lead with the help of Armstrong’s precise passing. The Shelby, Ohio native found senior tight end Tony Poljan and Henry for 23 and 29 yards, respectively, before giving the reins to junior quarterback Keytaon Thompson for a 10-yard rushing touchdown and a 20-7 lead. 

“Brennan Armstrong continues to be exceptional and continues to get better and better and better,” Mendenhall said. “To have had the start we had without Brennan, and then obviously when he’s come back and to see where the team has gone, he certainly deserves a lot of credit.”

Despite being short-handed, Boston College refused to go down without a fight, as Grosel showed off some pinpoint passing of his own while leading the Eagles on a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The Eagle defense similarly tightened up, picking off Armstrong on the second play of the Cavaliers’ ensuing drive and allowing Grosel and the Boston College offense to piece together a quick field-goal drive at the end of the half to cut the Virginia lead to 20-17. 

While the Cavaliers were unable to take advantage of their first possession of the second-half, senior cornerback Nick Grant intercepted Grosel in the end-zone on the fourth play of the Eagles’ drive. It took just two plays for Virginia to get six points on the board yet again, as Armstrong burst off on a 60-yard run for his second touchdown of the game. 

The Cavalier defense subsequently forced Boston College to go three-and-out on its next drive, giving the ball right back to a Virginia offense eager to take advantage of an Eagles’ defense on short rest. Armstrong and his corps did just that, marching 62 yards en route to a 28-yard Delaney field-goal with 4:32 left in the third-quarter.

Looking to seal the game early, the Cavalier defense dug in as the Eagles started to put together a solid drive. On a crucial fourth-and-17 at the Virginia 32-yard line, the Virginia secondary forced an incomplete pass by Grosel and a Boston College turnover. 

Virginia’s offense took advantage of the solid field position and Armstrong hit junior wide receiver Billy Kemp IV and freshman wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. on 21 and 18-yard passes, respectively. Junior running back Wayne Taulapapa would then punch the ball in the endzone from the one-yard line to extend the Cavalier lead to 36-17 following a failed two-point conversion. 

After three-and-outs from both squads, Grosel and the Eagles kept Virginia within arms, as Grosel found his trusted target in Flowers for a 15-yard score. The Eagles converted their two-point conversion to shave the Cavaliers’ lead to 35-26 with 6:19 left in the fourth quarter. Not wanting to leave anything up to chance, the Cavaliers responded with might, as Thompson broke off on a 43-yard touchdown scamper on the fifth play of the following Virginia drive. 

The Boston College offense initially responded in kind as Grosel connected with Flowers on a 46-yard toss, but Cavalier senior safety D’Angelo Amos stepped up on the following play, intercepting Grosel. While Virginia failed to get a first down on the ensuing drive and the Eagles scored on their next offensive possession, the Cavaliers were able to recover the onside run out the clock to secure a 43-32 victory. 

“I think Boston College is a very good football team,” Armstrong said. “I think they're coached well. They've demonstrated that the entire year. And I think their culture is strong, I think they're very competitive. I think it was a great win for our program under very unique circumstances. I’m happy for our team.”

Notably, the win marks the fourth-straight win for the Cavaliers this season following a rough 1-4 start, as Virginia looks to be peaking at the right time.

Armstrong was stellar once again, posting 287 yards and a touchdown in the air to go with 130 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Henry also had a breakout game, tallying three receptions for 95 yards and a score. Defensively, the Cavalier secondary struggled — allowing 520 passing yards from Grosel — but inside linebackers in senior Zane Zandier and sophomore Nick Jackson were solid, totaling 18 tackles. 

Up next for Virginia is a battle for the Commonwealth Cup against in-state foe Virginia Tech. The game will be broadcast live on the ACC Network at 8 p.m.

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