CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia football team picked up its second win in a row, as the Cavaliers defeated Louisville 31-17 on Saturday at Scott Stadium.
Much like the win against North Carolina, the Wahoos' defense gave up a lot of yards, but big plays proved to be the difference.
Against the Cardinals, it was three turnovers, and two 4th down stops.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall says, “We did make those five plays, and critical stops, and scored once, which really changed the outcome.”
Noah Taylor’s 85-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 1st quarter was the first of his career, and it’s the longest Pick Six by a linebacker in program history.
Taylor says, “When I caught it, I was like, ‘Yeah, I got to make this a touchdown,’ and then I looked to my left, and I saw playing UVA football, a lot of guys like Nick Jackson, and Zane (Zandier) blocking for me, which I really appreciated.”
“It might have been a little close to a block in the back, but they didn’t call it, so it worked out pretty good," says Zandier. "Just being able to see Noah run down the sideline, and into the endzone, was absolutely awesome.”
Sophomore linebacker Nick Jackson says, “Any time you get a turnover, it changes the game. Especially down in our territory, Noah getting the Pick Six was huge for the momentum. Us getting points, and them not getting points.”
The Cavaliers forced two fumbles in the 4th quarter.
The first came when senior Nick Grant ripped the ball away from Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham at the end of a long run.
Mendenhall says, "It went from coaches furious on the headset because we weren’t tackling him very well, to elation, all within a split second. Hustle plays matter.”
Grant says, “I just pressed my guy back into (Malik Cunningham). D’Angelo (Amos) was already tackling him, so I saw it as an opportunity to go for the ball and create a Havoc play.”
“Getting back to Havoc is huge for us," adds Zandier. "Getting the ball back to our offense, as much as we possibly can, with turnovers, is always big.”
Zandier forced a fumble for the 'Hoos with 4:29 remaining, which was recovered by Antonio Clary.
Virginia has forced thirteen turnovers through seven games so far this season.
The Cavaliers will host Abilene Christian in their only non-conference game of the year next weekend.