As many football games do, the Virginia-Indiana tilt Saturday night hinged on turnovers. Or to be more specific for the Bronco Mendenhall era at UVA, what happens after turnovers. The Hoosiers took advantage of the Cavaliers’ lone miscue and held on for a 20-16 victory in Bloomington.
The critical moment came early. The Hoos had taken a 7-0 lead only to see Indiana answer quickly to make it 7-7. The ensuing kickoff bounced off Joe Reed’s shoulder pads, but into his hands and he carried the ball forward to try to gain some field position yards. IU’s Micah McFadden dislodged the ball on contact, however, and Bryant Fitzgerald recovered that the UVA-21 yards line.
The Hoosiers scored on two plays to take a 13-9 lead (a touchdown pass followed by a blocked extra point that Virginia’s Juan Thornhill returned for two points the other way). While the special teams play limited the damage, Indiana never trailed again.
On the other hand, Virginia did not capitalize on Indian’s lone turnover. After the second half started well for the Hoos with a blocked field goal to keep IU off the scoreboard and a touchdown to cut the lead to 20-16, UVA had a golden opportunity. Thanks to pressure up front, Thornhill undercut a throw and intercepted Peyton Ramsey at the Indiana 37-yard line. That marked the third INT of the year for the defense.
The Cavaliers appeared to want to take a shot downfield on first down, but when nothing materialized, Bryce Perkins scrambled for nine yards. That play was negated by a holding penalty on Dillon Reinkensmeyer, however, and the drive fizzled out quickly after that. A run for no gain, a timeout, an incomplete pass on a long throw downfield toward Tavares Kelly, and a dropped pass by Olamide Zaccheaus that would have moved the chains led to a punt and a lost opportunity.
Both of those scenarios represent sudden change opportunities gone bad and that’s something that’s plagued the building stages for Mendenhall’s program.
Take a look at the offense after turnovers first.
- 2016 – 15 takeaways: 6 touchdowns, 6 punts, 4 other events (turnover, missed FG, end of half/game, etc.)
- 2017 – 18 takeaways: 4 touchdowns, 2 field goals, 7 punts, 5 other events
- 2018 – 3 takeaways: 2 punts, 1 other event (missed field goal)
In 2016, that’s...
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