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Monday Motivation: The Sweet Taste Of Victory

There was tons of good stuff in the world of the Wahoos this weekend, including the football team’s big win.

Central Michigan v Virginia Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images

We did it! We did it! I don’t know about you, but for me this morning the sun seemed to shine a little brighter and the birds chirped all my favorite tunes. It could only mean one thing: the Wahoos are winless under Coach Bronco Mendenhall no longer! We’ll get to that game more later, but first let’s check in with how the Hoos did over the past week.

Rapid Fire

- Justin Anderson, current Dallas Maverick and former Virginia superstar basketball player, hosted a charity dinner for some of his coaches, teammates, and fans at Texas Land & Cattle.

Anderson, who is an avid chef, teamed with executive chef John Imbriolo to put together a six-course meal that blended his Virginia roots with flavors from his new Texas home. Some of the dishes included a crab bisque, grilled king crab legs, a giant Texas sized steak, and an ABJ – Anderson’s play on the peanut butter and jelly.

Head coach Rick Carlisle, Dorian Finney-Smith, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Collingsworth, and Seth Curry were among the Mavericks in attendance, as well as ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla.

The dinner was not only a chance for Anderson to bond with his teammates, but also to serve a good cause. Proceeds from the dinner benefitted the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas, an organization whose mission is to better the odds for high-potential youth from at-risk neighborhoods.

- Virginia Men’s Soccer player Marcus Salandy-Defour, last week’s StLMMPotW, was named the ACC Men’s Soccer Co-Offensive Player of the Week last week for his two-goal performance against Clemson.

- If you are interested in seeing what the new-look Wahoo Men’s Basketball team looks like sans Malcolm Brogdon and with Austin Nichols, you’re in luck. The 2nd Annual Pepsi Blue-White Scrimmage (and Meet the Team Day!) will take place October 23.

- Speaking of Malcolm Brogdon, the new Milwaukee Bucks rookie took part of a whirlwind tour of northern Wisconsin as part of the “Own the Future” Statewide Tour, presented by Pick ‘n Save. On the tour, he worked the drive-thru at McDonald’s, helped stock produce at the grocery store, and visited a Coast Guard station. Of course, he also signed a lot of autographs and politely greeted everyone he met. He’s the best.

Check out the video in the tweet for the whole experience.

- Turns out, World Cup Champion and Olympian Morgan Brian is more like us than we thought. Apparently even superstar soccer players’ moms don’t want to keep their excellent childhood artwork. My vote is she should keep it.

- No.16 Field Hockey picked up two wins this week with a 2-1 overtime victory over Boston College and a 4-0 blanking of Fairfield.

Against the Eagles, Virginia got the go-ahead goal just 1:24 into extra time on a breakaway score by fourth year Lucy Hyams. Fellow fourth year Caleigh Foust forced the overtime period with a goal to tie the game with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation.

After that nail biter, the Hoos continued their road trip to Fairfield, CT to face the Stags. Erin Shanahan, Tara Vittese, Hyams, and Greta Ell all notched goals for the Cavaliers, and goalkeeper Carrera Lucas made five saves in the second shutout of her career.

The Hoos are now (6-4, 1-1 ACC) and host No. 14 Wake Forest and No. 17 Old Dominion in Charlottesville on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

- No. 2 Women’s Soccer got a huge tie against No. 3 Florida State in an overtime game shortened by lightning. The two teams played just one overtime period as inclement weather forced them to halt play for the second time in the game. Third year Veronica Latsko scored the lone goal for Virginia.

Virginia is now 8-1-1 (1-1-1 ACC) on the season. Next up, the Hoos host North Carolina on Sunday in an ESPNU televised game. Kickoff is set for 1pm.

Team of the Week

IT’S FOOTBALL Y’ALL. You knew it would be, and damn did they earn it. The Hoos hosted undefeated Central Michigan and sprinted to an early 28-0 start thanks to smothering defense and a clicking offense. Then some stuff happened that doesn’t matter, and then an 82-yard touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus gave Virginia the 35-28 lead and the Hoos never looked back.

The Cavalier, now 1-3 after obvious improvement through their first three games, got a crucial first win under their belts that will hopefully lead to a few more. In a spot where they could have folded and let a win slip through their fingers, the defense stepped up big time, and the offense capitalized.

The Hoos amassed 569 total yards of offense in the game, and had several contenders for MVP. Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell had 168 all-purpose yards in the game with 79 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and 89 receiving yards and a touchdown on six receptions.

His fellow running back – or big back, rather – Albert Reid, had 47 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries and one receiving touchdown as well.

Zaccheaus absolutely killed it with 141 receiving yards on eight receptions with two touchdowns, while Doni Dowling added 98 yards receiving and Keeon Johnson had 59 yards and a touchdown.

Whew. That’s a lot of touchdowns.

Defensively, Quin Blanding led the way with 12 tackles, while Kelvin Rainey and Zach Bradshaw each had nine. Jack Powers, the former Arizona State offensive lineman, had three clutch pass breakups. Andrew Brown, despite being held all game, built on his breakout game from UConn with two tackles (one sack) as he harassed Cooper Rush relentlessly.

Punter Nick Conte continued to be an absolute beast with six punts, averaging 48 yards a punt with four inside the 20 and one touchback.

But I want to talk about Eric Smith. As an offensive tackle, I can’t really give you any stats to tell you how much of a badass he was. I can say he was instrumental in getting Kurt Benkert time in the pocket and giving the running backs lanes to run in, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about his appearance in this highlight.

Look at the big man rumble. Smith is listed at 6’5”, 300 pounds. That’s the 20-yard line. That play started on the 47-yard line in Virginia’s territory. He sprinted 33 yards, and was directing Smoke behind him to help secure the touchdown that truly put the game out of reach with 4:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. That’s right, the fourth quarter. He had already played three plus quarters of in-the-trenches blocking football. Now, I will admit that I LOVE downfield blocking. I always have. I think it’s demonstrative of a team being committed to the overall goal and doing anything to help their guys score. A good downfield block – whether by a wide receiver, a tight end, or a hustlin’ Eric Smith – just makes me happy. This downfield block made my day. Get after it, Eric. Frank Wintrich is a magician.

Wahoo of the Week

Congratulations, Kurt Benkert. Not only did you just set a school record for passing in a single game and get your first career win as a starter…you are now StLMMPotW!! Benkert was phenomenal going 27 of 43 with 421 yards and five touchdown passes. He used his feet when needed and hit his groove in the air. When the team was faltering, Benkert stood tall and delivered a beautiful strike to Oz to reclaim the lead and light a fire.

On the move, evading, and on target.

Check out complete highlights from the game:

This week, Virginia tries to make it two in a row as it heads to the new Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham to take on a Duke team that upset Notre Dame in South Bend. Game kicks off at 12:30 on the ACC Network.