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Sidebar: Defense Leads UVa

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia’s Chase Minnifield stopped a late Richmond threat with an interception, and Vic Hall returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown to seal the Cavaliers’ 16-0 victory Saturday.

Richmond kept it close until Mikell Simpson’s 1-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter finally gave Virginia (1-1) a little breathing room at 10-0, and the defense did the rest.

Minnifield intercepted Eric Ward’s pass at the goal line and returned it to the Virginia 28 with 4:10 left, one of several big defensive plays that allowed the Cavaliers to overcome poor field position and three unsuccessful fourth-down gambles.

Two minutes later, Hall picked off another Ward pass and broke one tackle en route to the clinching score.

Until late, it was a frustrating afternoon for the Cavaliers, coming off a 52-7 season-opening loss to top-ranked Southern California. However, they were able to sack Ward at key times to keep the Spiders (1-1) out of the end zone, and Nick Jenkins blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt by Andrew Howard, who also missed a 29-yarder.

The worst of Virginia’s fourth-quarter miscues came just before the half when Richmond’s Jordan Shoop intercepted Peter Lalich’s pass and returned it 63 yards before being caught from behind at the Virginia 24. But Howard’s miss left Virginia with a 3-0 lead.

Virginia also failed on an earlier fourth-down pass from Richmond’s 31, and Lalich was stopped for no gain on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Virginia 29 early in the third quarter. A third-down sack of Ward pushed the Spiders out of field goal range and, moments later, Howard’s field goal attempt was blocked.

The Cavaliers’ only first-half points came on Yannick Reyering’s 26-yard field goal.

Lalich was 21-of-29 for 204 yards and two interceptions for Virginia, which improved to 19-3 against Football Championship Series opponents, including 12 consecutive victories. Kevin Ogletree had eight receptions for 103 yards.

Ward was 16-of-33 for 175 yards and two interceptions. Kevin Grayson caught eight passes for 111 yards.

Virginia travels to Connecticut next Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. game televised by ESPNU.

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