Defense will be on display in Commonwealth Clash

Mandy Alonso forced a fumble in the endzone against Virginia Tech in 2019.
Mandy Alonso forced a fumble in the endzone against Virginia Tech in 2019.(WVIR)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 9:37 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Fifteen years of frustration spilled onto the field at Scott Stadium in 2019, as the Virginia fans celebrated their first victory against their in-state rivals since 2003.

The UVA football team defeated Virginia Tech 39-30 to end the losing streak.

The Cavaliers’ defense allowed almost 500-yards of Total Offense in that game, but they stepped up when it mattered most.

The outcome was in doubt up until the final minute, when the Cavaliers’ defense sacked Hendon Hooker on three consecutive plays.

On the last one, Mandy Alonso forced a fumble, and Eli Hanback recovered it in the endzone for a defensive touchdown.

The play by the defense helped send UVA to the ACC Championship Game for the first time in program history.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall says the defense has been in position to make plays this season, but hasn’t always capitalized, including the 48-38 loss at Pitt last week.

“If you just go to the very last play, with Darrius Bratton versus Jersey #3 (Jordan Addison), I had my hand up, thinking it was an interception,” says Mendenhall, “and I had it down within microseconds, and that was the margin, and is the margin, for difference in winning a Coastal Championship.”

Senior safety Joey Blount says, “We do a great job running to the ball at times. We miss tackles here and there. We really practice our effort, our effort to the ball. We’re trying to just swarm and be 100 miles per hour, and sometimes that takes off angles of pursuit and (leads to) bad tackling.”

UVA is giving up more than 466 yards of Total Offense per game this season, which is ranked 121st out of 130 teams at the FBS level.

Virginia and Virginia Tech are scheduled to kick off on Saturday at 3:45 at Scott Stadium.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

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