Armstrong rallies UVa late to 34-33 comeback over Louisville

Virginia_Louisville_Football_43687 Virginia wide receiver Keytaon Thompson (99) is chased by Louisville defensive back Qwynnterrio Cole (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_36611 Louisville defensive back Chandler Jones (2) attempt to tackle Virginia wide receiver Ra'Shaun Henry (2) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_19589 Louisville running back Trevion Cooley (23) takes a handoff from quarterback Malik Cunningham (3), during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_75715 Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) is forced to scramble away from the defensive pressure of Virginia defensive lineman Nusi Malani (45) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_30384 Louisville running back Jalen Mitchell (15) runs past the defense of Virginia defensive back Antonio Clary (14) to cross the goal line for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_99791 Louisville running back Trevion Cooley (23) is pursued by Virginia outside linebacker Elliott Brown (4) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_92591 Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) breaks away from the grasp of Virginia defensive back Anthony Johnson (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_56238 Louisville defensive back Greedy Vance (21) and defensive back Qwynnterrio Cole (12) coverage on Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_12754 Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) hands the ball off to running back Jalen Mitchell (15) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in against Virginia in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33.
Virginia_Louisville_Football_39145 Virginia wide receiver Keytaon Thompson (99) avoids the grasp of Louisville defensive back Greedy Vance (21) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Virginia found itself down against Louisville as Saturday afternoon turned to Saturday evening, but quarterback Brennan Armstrong was not out.

He was lights out.

The junior quarterback threw for 487 yards on 40-of-60 passing, capping that performance with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Grant Misch with 22 seconds left to give the Cavaliers a stunning 34-33 comeback victory over Louisville on Saturday.

Virginia (4-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 30-13 with 89 seconds left in the third quarter before starting its comeback. At that moment, the betting site FanDuel offered -5000 in-game odds on the host team, implying the Cardinals had a better than 98 percent of winning.

Armstrong had other ideas, and one of them was not to quit.

“You do all this work, sometimes you don’t perform well, but why would you quit?” he said. “That just doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t add up in my head. That’s not how I think. Keep it simple. Why would you quit after you do all of this work for so much time?”

After throwing two third-quarter interceptions to help Louisville build its lead, Armstrong took advantage of the time he had. He went 15-of-22 down the stretch for 203 yards and two of his three touchdown passes.

On the final drive, he completed passes of 17 yards on a fourth-and-6 and 16 yards on a fourth-and-8.

“For Brennan Armstrong to come back from the third quarter he had, that’s hard to do,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Especially in the third quarter on the road. I was really proud of him.”

The final moments had a bit of déjà vu for both teams. For Louisville, which lost last week at Wake Forest, it was the second straight game where its opponent scored the game-winner with :22 left. After escaping Miami with a win, Virginia again had to endure another last-second drive where its opponent was driving for a go-ahead field goal.

Malik Cunningham got Louisville to the Virginia 31 in the final seconds. However, James Turner’s 49-yard field goal attempt as time expired sailed left and the Cavaliers rushed out of Cardinal Stadium with an improbable victory.

“We just have to get better,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We got to continue to grow as a football team and find ways to make one more one or two more plays.”

After trailing 13-10 at halftime, Louisville mounted its comeback behind junior running back Hassan Hall, who ran for 162 yards on 14 carries. His 52-yard touchdown on the first series of the second half gave Louisville its first lead of the day.

It was the first career 100-yard game for Hall, who did not play in the previous two games because of a shoulder injury.

Then, after Virginia punted from its own 34 with less than four minutes left in the game, Hall broke off a 53-yard run to the Cavaliers 27 that looked like it would seal it. But the Cavaliers forced Louisville to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Turner with 2:22 remaining to give Armstrong one last chance to be a hero.

As the clock dropped under three minutes remaining, Satterfield said he wanted to score a touchdown or at least get another first down, but he also wanted to make sure Virginia used all of its timeouts. Three straight run plays after Hall’s second big one of the day netted only five yards.

“That was disappointing that we didn’t get one more first down because that could have iced the game, but you had to take the field goal right there because it’s a three-point game, now we go up six and make them drive the ball with no timeouts,” he said.

Ra’Shaun Henry caught nine passes for 179 yards, and Keytaon Thomspson got 132 yards on his nine receptions for the Cavaliers.

MALIK MAGIC

Louisville’s first play from scrimmage on the day was a 91-yard touchdown pass from Cunningham to Tyler Harrell. The Cardinals have completed just six passing plays for 90 yards or more in the program’s history. Cunningham, who threw a 95-yarder to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce against Eastern Kentucky earlier this year, now has three of them. He also threw a 90-yard touchdown strike to Tutu Atwell against Syracuse in 2019.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia: Just when it looked like the Cavaliers would squander an opportunity for victory, they found a way to rally from three scores down on the road. Still, it would not have been necessary had the Cavaliers not left points off the board in the first half. They racked up 282 yards in the half but that only yielded 13 points as they settled for Brendan Farrell field goals of 25 and 22 yards after driving inside the Cardinals 10.

Louisville: What should have been a satisfying come-from-behind victory for Louisville turned into a second consecutive last-minute, frustrating loss for Scott Satterfield’s team. Outside of the two big runs by Hall and a 24-yard run by Malik Cunningham, Louisville’s rushing game did little against the ACC’s worst rushing defense. But the defense ended up being the biggest culprit as the Cardinals allowed Virginia to convert 9-of-19 third downs, including three that were longer than 10 yards.

UP NEXT

Virginia hosts Duke next Saturday afternoon.

Louisville is off next week and will return to face Boston College at home on Oct. 23.

___

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