SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For the second straight week, the University of Virginia football team had a chance to pull out a last-minute victory. This time the Cavaliers fell short.
After falling behind 16-0 at the break Friday night at the JMA Wireless Dome, Virginia rallied for three second-half touchdowns and took a 20-19 lead over Syracuse with 5:51 to play.
It didn’t last. Aided by a facemask penalty on the Cavaliers, the Orange drove into field-goal range, and Andre Szmyt connected from 31 yards to make it 22-20 with 1:14 remaining.
Szmyt’s fifth field goal—he was 5-for-5—closed out the scoring. Virginia turned the ball over on downs with 27 seconds left.
The Wahoos, who committed 12 penalties, missed two field-goal attempts and had an extra point blocked, fell to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in ACC play. They were coming off a 16-14 win over Old Dominion that ended with a Brendan Farrell field goal at Scott Stadium.
In that game, the Cavaliers’ final possession started with 1:01 remaining. They had a little more time with which to work Friday night, and they drove to their 47-yard line with 61 seconds to play. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw an incompletion on first down and scrambled for a 6-yard gain on second down, and another last-second victory was not out of the question. But the Orange (4-0, 2-0) broke up Armstrong passes on third and fourth down to end its three-game losing streak in the series.
Syracuse returned the opening kickoff 63 yards and then needed only six plays to take a 7-0 lead. After that, however, the Cavaliers’ defense sparkled. The Orange had no turnovers in its first three games, but UVA came up with four takeaways and sacked quarterback Garrett Shrader six times. Moreover, Virginia held Syracuse’s star tailback, Sean Tucker, to 60 yards on 21 carries.
Chico Bennett Jr. recorded two of the Cavaliers’ sacks, and Nick Jackson, Aaron Faumui, Paul Akere and Jahmeer Carter had one apiece. Sophomore safety Jonas Sanker had an interception and recovered a fumble. Jackson made 10 tackles, as did Sanker, but was ejected for targeting in the third quarter.
UVA’s offense had an uneven performance. Armstrong finished 19-of-38 passing for 138 yards and one touchdown but turned the ball over twice.
Tailback Perris Jones led all rushers with 87 yards and scored Virginia’s second touchdown. Wide receiver Keytaon Thompson scored the first on a 1-yard run, and the third came on Armstrong’s 4-yard pass to wideout Lavel Davis Jr. on fourth-and-goal with 5:51 left. True freshman Will Bettridge kicked the extra point to make it 20-19.
- UVA is 65-59-1 in night games and holds 25-36 mark in road night games.
- UVA has dropped back-to-back ACC openers and fall to 28-41 all-time in ACC opening games.
- The all-time series between UVA and Syracuse is even at 3-3. UVA is 1-2 against the Orange on the road.
- Virginia forced four turnovers (3 fumbles, 1 interception) in the contest for the second time this season (Illinois). The four Syracuse turnovers were the first four of the season.
- The Cavaliers were 3-for-3 with three touchdowns in the red zone. The Virginia defense held Syracuse to four field goals on its five trips inside the 20. The five field goals against UVA were the most since 2009 against Duke.
- The Cavaliers recorded six sacks in the contest, the most in a game since the 2019 regular season finale against Virginia Tech.
- Virginia scored all 20 of its points in the second half, the most in the second half this season and the most since scoring 24 against Georgia Tech last season.
- Senior Chico Bennett Jr. four tackles, two sacks and recovered a fumble in the contest. He has a sack in three consecutive games and leads the team with four on the year.
- Sophomore Jonas Sankerco-led the Cavaliers with a career-high 10 tackles. He also added a fumble recovery and his first career interception.
- in his 27thconsecutive start Nick Jackson was credited with 10 tackles (6 solo). It marked the 16th time in his career he’s recorded a double-digit tackling effort. Jackson also added a sack, his second of the season and he now has 7.5 in his career.
- Paul Akere(1st of the season, 1st as a Cavalier, 7th of his career), Aaron Faumui (3rd of season, 3.5 career) and Jahmeer Carter (1st of season and first solo sack of his career) were each credited with sacks in the contest
- Keytaon Thompson led the Cavaliers with 55 yards receiving on nine catches. He has now caught a pass in 18-straight games, the longest active streak on the team. Of his 55 yards, 32 of them came after the catch.
- Thompson also carried the ball twice for 10 yards and scored Virginia’s first touchdown of the night from one yard out. The rushing touchdown was his 18thof his career, eight have come in a UVA uniform.
- Running back Perris Jones ran for 87 yards and a touchdown, his second rushing score of the season. He had a career-long run of 28 yards in the fourth quarter that setup a first and goal from the six-yard line.
- Kam Butler forced his second fumble of the season, stripping Sean Tucker in the first quarter. He has two forced fumbles this season and five in his career. He is one of four ACC players with two forced fumbles in 2022.
- True freshman kicker Will Bettridge made his collegiate debut, converting the extra point try on UVA’s first touchdown.
- Brennan Armstrong’s four-yard passing touchdown to Lavel Davis Jr. in the fourth quarter put UVA up 20-19 with 5:51 remaining. The touchdown pass was his 54th of his career, three shy of breaking Matt Schaub’s program benchmark. The touchdown reception was Davis Jr.’s second of the season and eighth of his career.