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Virginia Cavaliers upset Boise State Broncos 42-23

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Biggest win of Mendenhall era comes on national television

NCAA Football: Virginia at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers entered their Friday night tilt against Boise State as double-digit underdogs. But a 28-14 halftime lead only grew in the second half, and Bronco Mendenhall’s program is bringing its biggest win home from the blue turf.

Kurt Benkert stayed hot after his record-breaking performance against UConn, throwing for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns—including a 64-yard laser to Andre Levrone that expanded the lead to 21 on Virginia’s first drive of the second half. Jordan Ellis added 93 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries, and Olamide Zaccheaus rounded out the scoring with a 56-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Levrone’s 141 receiving yards were surpassed only by Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who gained 209 yards and a score on 13 receptions. Doni Dowling caught the other Benkert touchdown throw, scampering to the end zone after his cover man fell down.

Things looked bleak at the opening for Virginia. With linebacker Malcolm Cook a late-announced scratch, Boise State marched 80 yards down the field in less than 3 minutes to take a 7-0 lead. The Hoos “answered” with a three-and-out dud, but pinned the Broncos at their own 10 after a 60-yard punt by Lester Coleman had a Broncos penalty tacked onto the end. Stuck against their own end zone, Boise State had to punt, and UVA started with the ball at midfield.

Virginia scored on its first possession after the Boise punt, a 2-yard run by Jordan Ellis. The teams traded punts for a few possessions before Benkert connected with Levrone for their first touchdown of the day, Virginia’s second.

The 14-7 lead was one UVA would never relinquish.

Boise State attempted a fake punt but fumbled the snap, and the Doni Dowling touchdown put Virginia up 14. BSU tight end Jake Roh scored a rushing touchdown out of the wildcat to cap a last-minute Broncos drive before halftime.

It took only three plays for UVA to get back on the board in the second half on Benkert’s deep bomb to Levrone. The Cavalier duo hooked up over good coverage, with Benkert throwing Levrone open and the wideout accelerating under a beautifully thrown ball.

Boise State added two scores late as Virginia’s lack of depth started to show. Protecting Benkert from injury led to Devante Cross taking snaps, but a tweaked ankle sent Cross to the sideline. A botched snap led to a Boise State safety, and Montell Cozart—getting garbage time experience in relief of Brett Rypien—found Cedrick Wilson for a 40-yard touchdown heave. Virginia recovered the onside kick and kneeled out the clock.

UVA out-gained Boise State 440 to 383. The Hoos more than quintupled the Broncos’ rushing output, 167 yards to 30. A stifling performance from the Virginia defense yielded only 1.3 yards per carry for Boise State, and held the Broncos to 4-of-16 on third-down conversions.

This was Virginia’s fifth win in twenty games west of the Mississippi, and coincidentally also Bronco Mendenhall’s fifth win as UVA’s coach. The Hoos get a well-earned week off to rest some key injured players before opening ACC action at home against Duke on October 7th.