Timely Havoc Has Virginia Football On Two-Game Win Streak

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The University of Virginia football program forced one turnover during a four-game losing streak that dropped the Hoos to 1-4. In three of the four losses – Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest – the Hoos had only five sacks combined, including zero against the Wolfpack.

UVA’s defense got back on the right track against Miami, turning in 11 tackles for loss with five sacks, but it wasn’t enough in a 19-14 loss in Miami Gardens. Virginia forced zero turnovers against the Hurricanes. In subsequent wins over North Carolina and Louisville, complete “havoc” – sacks and turnovers – has returned for the Cavaliers.

North Carolina and Louisville racked up the yards on offense, but thanks to timely havoc from the Virginia defense the Cavaliers were able come away with wins.

North Carolina posted 536 yards of offense and 41 points but lost to UVA, 44-41, on Halloween. The emergence of the Virginia offense obviously was huge in the win, but the defense made just enough plays to keep a Tar Heel offense that has scored over 50 points against ACC opponents three times in 2020 at bay.

Virginia football outside linebacker Charles Snowden had four sacks and a crucial forced fumble in the win over North Carolina. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

Havoc Plays, UNC

– Leading 7-6, UNC had 2nd-and-6 at the Virginia 21. Cavalier outside linebacker Charles Snowden sacks quarterback Sam Howell on consecutive plays, forcing a 51-yard field goal attempt. The field goal is good, but the Hoos prevented a touchdown.

– With the game tied at 20-20, North Carolina had 2nd-and-11 at the Virginia 28. Inside linebacker Nick Jackson sacks Howell for a 7-yard loss, and the Tar Heels end up attempting a 52-yard field goal. This time, the field goal is no good.

UVA’s ensuing drive ends with a punt, but the punt is muffed and Tucker Finkelston comes up with the recovery. The Cavalier offense turns the miscue into seven, and UVA takes the lead for good at 27-20.

– Virginia opens the second half with a touchdown to take a 34-20 lead over UNC. On the Tar Heels next drive, Snowden sacks Howell, who fumbles. Mandy Alonso recovers the turnover, which leads to another Virginia touchdown and a 41-20 lead. The Tar Heels would score touchdowns on its final three possessions, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Hoos.

Yesterday afternoon in Scott Stadium, Louisville ran wild on what was a very good Virginia run defense, totaling 317 yards rushing on the heels of 14 plays of 10+ yards on the ground. The Cardinals, who played without star running back Javian Hawkins and star wide receiver Tutu Atwell, had 478 yards of offense in total but managed only 17 points thanks to some timely havoc.

Key Havoc Plays, Louisville

– On its first drive of the game, Louisville reaches the UVA 10 and has a 2nd-and-7. Cornerback De’Vante Cross expertly plays an option play and throws quarterback Malik Cunningham for a 6-yard loss. On the next play, Cunningham attempts a pass over the middle, but it goes directly to linebacker Noah Taylor, who sprints 85 yards for a touchdown. UVA takes a 7-0 lead.

– Louisville rebounds from the Pick-6 and drives to the Virginia 32, when Nick Jackson sacks Cunningham for a loss of nine. The Cardinals settle for a 48-yard field, which is good.

– Trailing 14-10, Louisville once again enters Virginia territory (did so 8 of 13 drives) and faces a 3rd-and-9 at the Virginia 41. Charles Snowden sacks Cunningham for a loss of 13, forcing a punt.

– On the final drive of the first half, Louisville has a 1st-and-10 at the Virginia 45 with 16 seconds remaining and only one timeout left. Inside linebacker Zane Zandier sacks Cunningham for a 3-yard loss, forcing the Cardinals to use their final timeout. UL winds up with zero points.

– Louisville gets the ball to start the second half, and head coach Scott Satterfield decides to go for a first down on 4th-and-2 on their own 47. The UVA defense rises to the occasion, stuffing the Cardinals. The Cavalier offense takes advantage with a touchdown to go up 21-10.

– Mandy Alonso sacks Cunningham on 3rd-and-5 on Louisville’s ensuing drive, forcing a punt. This was the only 3-and-out for the visitors the entire game.

Senior cornerback Nick Grant came through with one of the biggest havoc plays of the game. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

– Now trailing 24-17, Louisville faces 3rd-and-1 from its 38. Cunningham rattles off a 27-yard run, but as he fights for more yardage cornerback Nick Grant rips the ball away for a turnover. UVA takes possession and drives for a touchdown to take a 31-17 lead.

– On the first play of Louisville’s next possession, Cunningham finds receiver Dez Fitzpatrick for a 13-yard gain, but Zandier forces a fumble and safety Antonio Clary recovers to give UVA possession. The Hoos, who have a 31-17 lead and the ball with 4:14 remaining, milk 1:57 off the clock and force Louisville to use its remaining timeouts.

In three wins, Virginia football has forced 12 turnovers and totaled 14 sacks. In four losses, the Hoos have one forced turnover and 10 sacks. In the final three conference games against Florida State, Boston College and Virginia Tech, the Hoos will need to continue the former to close out 2020 the way the want.

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