clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mistakes, miscues doom Virginia in 40-23 loss to Wake Forest

New, comments

Disappointing stretch continues for the Cavaliers.

Capital One Orange Bowl - Virginia v Florida Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

A span of 96 seconds in the fourth quarter completely flipped the Virginia-Wake Forest game on its head as a tie game turned into a 14-point lead for the Demon Deacons. After the Cavaliers tied the game at 23-23, Wake Forest rattled off a 75-yard touchdown run to retake the advantage. On the ensuing kick off, second year Perris Jones fumbled the ball, and Wake would push it’s lead to 37-23 in the blink of an eye.

Costly mistakes were the name of the game for Virginia as the Hoos messed up coverages, missed a field goal that would have given them the lead, and had multiple first downs wiped off the board with penalties. Virginia fell to 1-3 with the loss, and things aren’t going to get easier with ranked matchups with Miami and North Carolina looming.

The Virginia secondary struggled mightily as Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman finished with 309 yards and an average completion distance of 19.3 yards per reception.

With starting QB Brennan Armstrong out with a concussion, the Virginia offense debuted a three-headed monster of Lindell Stone, Iraken Armstead, and Keytaon Thompson in the position. It took some time to get rolling, but once it did, the Cavaliers moved pretty well down the field in the first half. This showed immense creativity from head coach Bronco Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Robert Anae, and the offensive line deserves a ton of credit for working so well with the constant changes.

The second half, however, resulted in just three points as Wake rattled off 20. Virginia was unable to take advantage of Wake’s numerous penalties, and lost the turnover battle yet again.

Virginia’s concerning trend of getting off to slow starts continued against Wake as the Hoos allowed the Demon Deacons to take a 7-0 lead with a six play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 40-yard touchdown pass and ate just shy of two minutes off the clock. After an anemic opening drive for the Cavaliers that lasted three plays and gained just four yards, Wake pushed its lead to 14-0 on another quick drive. The second scoring drive took just two plays and covered 52 yards as Hartman again picked up chunk yardage with a 49-yard completion.

After that first series, however, the three-headed monster of Stone, Armstead, and Thompson showed out. The Hoos scored on four straight possessions, with Taulapapa scoring the touchdown that would tie the game at 20-20 heading into the half.

The Cavaliers had some time management and timeout issues so far this season with Mendenhall having to burn them early in the first quarter. This game, the time management issues came in handling Virginia’s final drive of the second half. The Hoos used a timeout to give themselves the ball back with 49 seconds left, but called a run play that ate up a bunch of clock and didn’t use a timeout. A big strike to Tony Poljan across the middle moved the Hoos down the field, but could have used some of that time back.

Wake held a 277-259 yard advantage in the first half, with 219 of that coming in the air for the Deacons (21.9 yards per reception).

Neither team could really get going to start the second half, and the Cavaliers had two promising drives end thanks to a holding penalty and missed 36-yard field goal. A long Wake drive that featured a 20-yard first down run by Hartman ended with a 38-yard field goal make from Nick Sciba that put the Demon Deacons back in front with :26 left in the third quarter.

Virginia tied things up at 23 after another drive was derailed by a penalty, but Kenneth Walker rattled off a 75-yard touchdown run on Wake’s next play from scrimmage that put the Deacs back in front. Then things went from bad to worse. Wake went with the pooch kick, and Perris Jones mishandled the catch. Four plays later, Wake Forest’s lead ballooned to 14 at 37-23 with 11:38 remaining.

This is a Virginia team that has very little margin for error, and two mistakes — blown gaps on the long touchdown rush and the fumbled kick return — turned the game on its head in an instant.

Stone threw an interception that resulted in a Wake field goal, and Virginia wasn’t able to put any points on the board despite getting into the red zone.

Next up, Virginia travels to Miami for an 8pm game on the ACC Network.