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Virginia football falls at Oregon, 44-26

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Hoos make progress but can’t hang with more talented Oregon squad

NCAA Football: Virginia at Oregon Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

It was an encouraging first fifteen minutes for the Virginia Cavaliers. After a quarter of play, the Hoos had doubled their rushing output from week one. Their defense had forced the vaunted Ducks offense to punt on its first drive. It was only a seven point game.

But then, well...

The Ducks went over, around, and through the Cavaliers defense for the next fifteen minutes. A 13-6 Oregon lead after one quarter became 30-6 after two. Oregon converted a third-and-36, turning what looked like a Cavalier stop into 7 points. The momentum swing seemed to take life out of the Hoos for the rest of the half.

But Virginia hung tough with Oregon in the third, matching the Ducks’ 14 points with 14 of their own en route to a 44-20 score after 45 minutes. UVA scored a touchdown with 7 seconds left in the third quarter, then scored the next points of the game (and the only points of the fourth quarter) on another Kurt Benkert TD pass seven minutes later—a 12-play, 78-yard drive that showed how the UVA offense should and could function.

The Ducks intercepted Benkert on a deep throw after the Hoos’ had stopped a fourth-down try by Oregon, and the final gun saw the home team hold serve, 44-26, a final margin closer than what many experts predicted.

Oregon RB Royce Freeman led the home squad’s rushing attack with 207 yards and 2 touchdowns, including an 85-yard scoring romp straight up the gut in the third quarter. WR Devon Allen—late of the Rio Olympics 110-meter hurdling finals—flashed his wheels as well, getting behind the UVA defense for a 77-yard TD reception, also in the third quarter. QB Dakota Prukop finished with 3 touchdown passes and 331 yards through the air.

Albert Reid was the brightest spot of a Cavalier offense that generally showed substantial improvement from week one, racking up 126 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Kurt Benkert’s accuracy took a bit of a tumble, as the Hoos’ QB finished 20-of-39 for 193 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs.

Virginia will seek its first win of the 2016 season (and of the Mendenhall era) next week at Connecticut, who lost today to Navy, 28-24.