𝐉𝐔𝐌𝐏 𝐁𝐀𝐋𝐋 ▶️ Malachi Fields
21-7 HOOS at the Half!
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) September 30, 2023
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Another week, another excruciating defeat for the Virginia football team.
Coming off a three-point loss to NC State, Virginia took a two-touchdown lead into halftime Saturday against ACC foe Boston College at Alumni Stadium.
It didn’t last. The Eagles rallied for 17 straight third-quarter points before the Cavaliers tied the game on Will Bettridge’s 44-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
BC answered with a drive that ended with a 42-yard field that made it 27-24, and that’s how the game ended. The Wahoos started their final possession at their 28-yard line, but four plays netted only seven yards, and they turned the ball over on downs with 1:24 to play. The Eagles (2-3 overall, 1-2 ACC) ran out the clock, and the Hoos (0-5, 0-2), off to their worst start since 1982, limped off the field.
“My heart hurts for the guys in the locker room,” UVA head coach Tony Elliott said, “because they battled through a lot to get to this point … I’ve got to do a better job as a coach, along with the staff, of helping them to make the transition to understand that when you have success, you can’t take your foot off the gas, you can’t become complacent. Every play, every drive until the game is over, you’ve got to be looking at: How can I get better? How can I improve? How can I rely on my fundamentals even more?”
Virginia’s defense has been ravaged by injuries and suffered more attrition Saturday. The Cavaliers came up with four takeaways, but they also gave up 203 yards rushing.
UVA’s offense went into the break on a high note. On the final play off the second quarter, wide receiver Malachi Fields outleaped two BC defenders in the end zone and came down with a 39-yard Hail Mary pass from quarterback Tony Muskett, and Bettridge’s extra point pushed the Hoos’ lead to 21-7.
In the final two quarters, however, Virginia totaled only 39 yards, as BC applied constant pressure to Muskett.
“It snowballed on us in the third quarter,” offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said, “and we never regained momentum.”
For Muskett, it was his first game since Sept. 2, when he hurt his non-throwing shoulder in the season opener. Against Boston College, he completed 22 of 34 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Muskett was sacked five times for 34 yards in losses, but he also ran the ball effectively at times.
“He showed the competitive spirit that he has,” Elliott said. “I was anxious to see how he was going to pull the ball down and run. And I thought he showed no hesitation, no fear. I even saw him lead with that shoulder a couple of times. I thought he made some big-time throws.”
On Virginia’s final possession, Muskett threw a high pass intended for true freshman wideout Jaden Gibson on the first down. Then came another incompletion. On third down, he hit Gibson for a seven-yard completion, but BC pressured Muskett on fourth down, and he threw an incompletion.
The Cavaliers practice their two-minute offense almost daily, and “we just need, I just need, to be better,” Muskett said. “I’ve got hit Jaden on the first throw and then we got to figure out how to get first down in the next three downs. So I take full responsibility for that. As a quarterback, I have to make sure we get down there and get a touchdown to win the game.”
Wideout Malik Washington, who had a chance to become the first player in program history with four straight games of at least 100 yards receiving, finished with 97 against BC on nine catches. Washington had a touchdown catch, and Fields and tailback Mike Hollins also had one each.
Tony throwing 🎯! 2nd passing TD of the game.
UVA leads BC, 14-0 w/ 12:11 remaining in the half.
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) September 30, 2023
On defense, the Hoos came into the game without ends Paul Akere, Kam Butler and Ben Smiley III and safety Lex Long, among others, and they lost cornerbacks Dre Walker and Malcolm Greene to injuries during the game. But Rudzinski refused to use the defense’s lack of depth as an excuse.
“That’s part of the game,” Rudzinski said, “and that’s what a good coach and a good team will do. You find a way with the resources you have. It’s a life lesson that we want these young men to take with them. When it gets tough and you might think, ‘I don’t have this, I don’t have that,’ what a great man does is he goes and finds a way, and that’s going to be the mentality as we go forward. I’m proud of these young men for as hard as they fought. I bleed for them and feel for them, too, because we want to win. But wanting to is one thing. Now we’ve got to produce that result.”
Penalties hurt the Cavaliers against NC State, and they struggled with their discipline again Saturday. They were penalized 11 times for 90 yards. (BC was flagged five times for 36 yards).
After the game, Elliott said, he told his players that Virginia is “learning some very hard lessons as a football program. Football, it’s a hard game and it only gives you what you earn. It doesn’t give you what you deserve. It just gives you what you earn. And if you have 11 penalties and you don’t execute, then you’re gonna get what you earn. And unfortunately, when you have those things, typically that earns you a loss.”
Butler had season-ending surgery Thursday, Elliott said, but UVA hopes to have Akere, Smiley and Long back soon. He wasn’t sure about the extent of the injuries suffered by Walker, a true freshman who had a first-half interception, and Greene, a transfer from Clemson.
Virginia Team Notes
- Virginia dropped to 0-4 in road games against Boston College. It marked the first trip to Chestnut Hill since 2010. BC leads the all-time series that was first played in 1963 against UVA, 7-1.
- UVA has lost eight-straight games dating back to last season, its longest losing skid since 2013 (final nine games). UVA is 0-5 for the first time since 1982, the first year of Hall of Fame coach George Welsh’s tenure at Virginia.
- Virginia forced a season-high four turnovers (2 INT, 2 FR) in the contest. UVA has lost its last three games when forcing four or more turnovers (2022 at Syracuse & 2022 at Illinois). The Cavaliers came into the contest with two turnovers on the year (1 INT, 1 FR).
- The 21 points scored in the first half were a season-high and the most in the first half since scoring 21 against Virginia Tech in 2021.
- UVA scored on its opening drive for the second time this season (JMU). The drive lasted 10 plays and went for 75 yards, tied for the longest touchdown drive of the season.
- Virginia led by as many as 14 points, tied for the largest lead in a game this season. The Cavaliers have owned double-digit leads in three of their five games this season.
- Saturday was UVA’s first multi-interception game since picking off two against Louisville last season.\
- Wide receiver Malik Washington led the Cavaliers in receptions and receiving yards for the third-straight game with nine catches for 97 yards. He was three-yards shy of becoming UVA’s first player to ever record four-straight 100-yard receiving games.
- Washington extended his consecutive games with a reception streak to 30 games. He also went over the 150 career reception mark and has 157 for his career.
- Quarterback Tony Muskett was 22-of-34 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He is the first UVA quarterback with three touchdown passes in a game since Brennan Armstrong had three at Pitt in 2021.
- A UVA quarterback has thrown for 200 or more yards in three-straight games. It was Muskett’s 18th 200-yard passing game of his career and first at UVA.
- Running back Mike Hollins scored on a five-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, his first receiving touchdown of his career. It was his Hollins’ 10th career touchdown.
- Making his second-straight start, true freshman Dre Walker recorded his first career interception. He is the first true freshman with an interception since Bryce Hall had two in 2016 against Duke.
- Linebacker Josh Ahern recorded his first career interception to go along with five tackles. It was the first interception by a UVA linebacker since D’Sean Perry vs. Abilene Christian in 2020.
- True freshmen Jaden Gibson and third year Bryce Carter made their first collegiate starts in the contest. Gibson caught two passes for 30 yards. Carter added four tackles.
- Defensive tackle Jahmeer Carter has started 17-straight games, the longest of streak of any Cavalier.
UP NEXT: Virginia is back home next weekend. At noon Saturday, in its final non-conference game, UVA meets William & Mary (4-1) at Scott Stadium. The game will air on ACC Network.
The Tribe is in its fifth season under former UVA head coach Mike London. W&M is ranked No. 4 in the FCS coaches’ poll.
W&M lost 14-6 at Elon on Saturday afternoon.
Virginia leads the series 31-6-1 and has won five straight over the Tribe. In the teams’ most recent meeting, UVA opened the 2021 season with a 43-0 win over W&M at Scott Stadium.