Backup QB Matt Johns Steps Up in UVa Season Opener

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Matt Johns three two touchdowns and no interceptions in his college debut Matt Johns three two touchdowns and no interceptions in his college debut

The Virginia football team did not beat 7th-ranked UCLA in its season opener, but it came pretty close.

The Cavaliers fell 28-20 at Scott Stadium Saturday, but made it a lot better game than many people thought, thanks in large part to a player who wasn't even supposed to see the field.

The first pass of Matt Johns' college career was a 32-yard bomb down the sidelines to Canaan Severin.

The second was a 29-yard touchdown to Andre Levrone, and helped ignite a UVa rally against the 7th-ranked Bruins.

"One play, and those butterflies are gone," says Johns.  "We had the ball off to KP, and five plays later we're in the endzone."

The sophomore from Pennsylvania took over after the UCLA defense turned three turnovers into touchdowns with Greyson Lambert at the helm.

"He was awesome," says Johns.  "I came off the sideline, he was the first one to support me. He's one of my best friends on the team. We were roommates all camp. He's one of the reasons I had so much confidence going in."

Head coach Mike London says, "The thing that Matt has done, we talked about raising his football IQ. He's done a great job of running the offense as well. He studies the game. He's a guy that earned playing time today."

London was not ready to name a starter for next week after the game.

The Cavaliers say the play-calling against UCLA was pretty much the same for the two quarterbacks, but Johns added a bit more scrambling ability.

Johns says, "Before our first touchdown, it was my second college play ever, and I dropped back, and saw Myles Jack, and said, 'I need to get away from him."

Freshman wide receiver Andre Levrone says, "A lot of people don't give him enough respect for how well he can run. Matt obviously showed today that when the play broke down, he took off for 10 yards and got a first down. I think the play call was pretty much the same. Certain things just opened up differently when Matt was in the game."

No matter who the starter is next week, Johns says the team learned a valuable lesson in Week One.

"We can play with anyone," says Johns.  "You look at them, they're 7th in the country. Our defense held them to one touchdown, and we battled, and battled on offense, and gave ourselves opportunities, but unfortunately we didn't come out on top, and we need to."


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