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Virginia Football opens the season with 43-0 win over William and Mary

The Virginia defense holds W&M to 183 yards and wins going away

NCAA Football: William & Mary at Virginia Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

While the offense provided the fireworks, the night belonged to the Virginia Cavaliers defense. The Hoos kept William and Mary quarterback Darius Wilson running for his life all night. Virginia only notched one sack but was dominant getting into the backfield and holding the Tribe down all night. Overall William and Mary only mustered 183 yards, unable to eclipse one hundred yards in either the passing or the running games.

It all got started for Virginia when Billy Kemp IV returned a William and Mary punt for 55 yards setting up the Hoos just outside of the Red Zone. The offense couldn't get anything going, but Justin Duenkel came in to knock in the first field goal of his career, a 39 yard strike that gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead.

After a Tribe three and out, Virginia moved the ball well thanks to a couple Brennan Armstrong runs and a 27 yard reception by Keytaon Thompson. But the drive came to an end when Ira Armstead was only able to pick up one yard on a 4th and 2. The play call was surprising given Armstead lined up in the shotgun despite the size advantage Virginia had on the line.

The Virginia defense was stout through the first half forcing three-and-outs on William and Mary’s first five possessions But the Hoos offense just couldn’t get anything going and would falter again on a fourth and one, this time with Jacob Rodriquez unable to pick up the yard.

Following another William and Mary three-and-out the Virginia offense finally figured it out. Armstrong connected with Donatavion Wicks for 30 yard and 23 yard receptions before he’d finish things himself with a two yard touchdown run.

William and Mary threatened on the next drive with an 11-play 58 yard drive helped out by a pass interference call on a ball that was likely uncatchable. Virginia would catch a break though, as Ethan Chang’s 42 yard field goal attempt was no good.

On the Cavaliers’ next drive Thompson showed his versatility with a 40-yard scamper that seemingly included a stiff arm on each William and Mary defender. The drive was capped off by a beautiful five yard fade to Ra’Shaun Henry in the back corner of the end zone giving the Hoos a 17-0 lead heading into the half.

It appeared as if Virginia was going to start the second half in style when after initially fumbling the kickoff, Mike Hollins broke a tackle and ran all way for a touchdown. However an illegal block in the back would bring the return all the way back to the 16 yard line. The Hoos couldn't get anything going and ended up going three and out.

The Tribe moved the ball on their next drive but Nick Grant was able to get through the line and block Chang's field goal attempt preserving the 17 point lead.

Virginia struck quickly on their next possession. After connecting with Kemp on a 15 yard completion, Armstrong found Demick Starling for a 65 yard bomb and a 24-0 Virginia lead.

The Cavaliers extended their lead to 27-0 when Duenkel hit a 25 yard field goal on a drive that was highlighted by a 25 yard run by Rodriguez. The Hoos wanted more though as Henry just missed another touchdown on a corner fade and Thompson dropped a third down pass in the end zone.

William and Mary would give Virginia a gift two plays later when after center Ryan Ripley left the game cramping and his replacement snapped the ball over Wilson’s head and out the back of the end zone for a safety. Virginia made the Tribe pay striking quickly going 55 yards in just over two minutes capped off by another Armstrong touchdown run.

Virginia kept the pressure on putting together another touchdown drive with seemingly every Cavalier getting in on the action. Wicks had a reception and Thompson chipped in two. Armstead lined up in the shotgun and had a 20 yard rush for a first down. Then Ronnie Walker Jr. punched it in from nine yards out for the touchdown after hauling in an 11 yard reception earlier in the drive. The drive would put an exclamation point an all-around solid offensive performance

On the day Armstrong completed 20 of 30 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his two rushing touchdowns. Leading the Hoos in receiving was Wicks who caught four balls for 94 yards. On the ground Armstead led the way with 54 yards on five carries while Wayne Taulapapa was electric rushing for 48 yards on five carries. Thompson, as expected, was all over the field catching four passes for 63 yards and rushing for 46 yards on five carries.

On the other side of ball Nick Jackson led the team in tackles with twelve and Hunter Stewart added six tackles, 1.5 for a loss. Mandy Alonso picked up the sole UVA sack.

For the Tribe, Wilson completed nine passes for 83 yards while Virginia held running back Donavyn Lester to only 42 yards on the ground and 23 yards through the air (both team highs).

Virginia has plenty to feel good about this week and gets to stay at home hosting Illinois next Saturday. That game will kickoff at 11 AM EDT.