Check below for game stories from all the ACC action this weekend. It’s listed in alphabetical order, by winning ACC team. (Non-conference losses are listed at the end.)
Williams rushes for 5 TDs, BC beats Army 48-27
BOSTON (AP) – For a few seconds, Andre Williams shared Boston College’s single-game rushing record. On his next play, he lost a yard.
He didn’t carry the ball again.
Oh, well. He shrugged it off like he did Army’s defenders.
“I don’t necessarily care too much about the records,” Williams said after rushing for 263 yards and tying a school record by running for five touchdowns to lead BC to a 48-27 victory over Army on Saturday. “I have seven more weeks to get it.”
The Eagles (3-2) have one more win than they did all last season and have seven games left, starting with a trip to No. 3 Clemson.
Saturday’s game was played after the Department of Defense announced that football games involving service academies could be played while the partial government shutdown is in effect.
“A non-issue,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said. “The guys are too busy to spend a bunch of time around the water cooler talking about what might happen this weekend.”
Williams entered the game as the Atlantic Coast Conference rushing leader with 515 yards and 128.8 per game then built on that with the best performance of his career. The senior scored on runs of 34, 1, 37 and 3 yards before capping his scoring with another 34-yarder early in the fourth quarter as Boston College took a three-touchdown lead. He carried the ball 30 times.
BC’s single-game rushing record of 264 yards was set by Montel Harris in 2009 against North Carolina State. He also rushed for five touchdowns in that game.
Williams didn’t play on the Eagles last series and he and coach Steve Addazio said they weren’t aware he was close to the record.
“Those things are all nice,” Addazio said, “but with a team’s success, individual goals will come.”
In last year’s 34-31 loss to Army, Williams ran for 199 yards, his career high at the time, and two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder. He surpassed that this season with 204 yards rushing in a 24-10 win over Wake Forest.
“I was thinking about last year’s Army game all week and the controversy about whether the game was going to be played just really was playing with my heart,” he said. “When we found out the game was going to be played, it was really a good opportunity and I wasn’t going to let it pass me.”
BC led 31-20 after a first half in which the teams scored on the first six possessions and nine of 10, ending with Nate Freese’s 49-yard field goal as time expired.
Army (2-4) scored on its first play of the second half on an 80-yard run by Larry Dixon as the Black Knights cut the lead to 31-27.
But then Williams led the Eagles on a 93-yard march, capped by his fourth touchdown, on a 3-yard run. He rushed on 10 of the 13 plays for 52 yards. Chase Rettig completed a 39-yard pass to Alex Amidon that moved the ball to the Army 33. Then Williams ran on the remaining five plays.
Freese added a 28-yard field goal before the 227-pound Williams powered through the line again for his fifth touchdown.
“We feel better about ourselves offensively, especially in the first half,” Ellerson said, “and we’re sore as heck with ourselves defensively because we allowed them to come out and manhandle us.”
Neither defense could do much in the first half.
Daniel Grochowski kicked a 38-yard field goal for Army before the Eagles got the ball. On their first play, Rettig completed a 68-yard pass to Amidon, the longest completion and reception of those players’ careers. The drive ended with Rettig’s 3-yard scoring pass to Dave Dudeck.
Then Army, a ground-and-pound team that relies on the triple option, fooled the Eagles.
Angel Santiago handed the ball to Terry Baggett, who flipped it back to Santiago as Xavier Moss ran downfield without being guarded. Santiago completed the pass and Moss scored on the 75-yard play. It was the first pass play of the game for Army. And it came after the Black Knights didn’t throw a pass in the second half of last Saturday’s 35-16 victory over Louisiana Tech.
Then Williams put BC back in control, scoring three touchdowns in a span of 11:1.
“He’s a load,” Army linebacker Julian Holloway said, “but, at the same time, you wrap (him) up and bring yourself to him and bring him in, he has to go down. That’s just the nature of physics. And then swarming to the ball. I think we could have done a better job of that.”
Even that might not have been enough to slow Williams down.
“With Andre, I told him earlier in the week he’s got to rush for 200 yards,” Addazio said. “We’ve got a legitimate offensive line. They blocked well and we ran really, really hard.”
No. 3 Clemson beats Syracuse 49-14 behind Boyd
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney seems to have it down pat: find a way to befuddle defenses and then let quarterback Tajh Boyd do the rest.
Coach and star player were on the same wavelength again on Saturday. With his talented receiving corps repeatedly running alone in space, Boyd threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters of work as the third-ranked Tigers beat Syracuse 49-14 to spoil the Orange’s Atlantic Coast Conference debut.
“I got guys here who flat just go out there and get it, some of the best skill guys in the country,” said Boyd, who finished 20 of 27 with his first two interceptions of the season. “We try to put these guys in the best position possible. We played a pretty complete game and are getting close to where we want to be.”
Boyd, who matched his school record in TD passes and eclipsed his Clemson record for passing yards in a game by 27, hit a wide-open Adam Humphries with scoring passes of 60 and 42 yards in the first quarter to help stake the Tigers to a big early lead. And when Syracuse threatened to rally in the final minute of the third quarter, Boyd, standing at his own goal line, hit Sammy Watkins with a perfect spiral in stride at the 45-yard line, and he outraced the lone defender for Clemson’s final touchdown.
“That play really sealed the game,” said Watkins, who had four receptions for 126 yards. “Tajh did such a great job of getting the ball out so quick and so fast, it’s real easy for the wideouts. Being on the road, you have to jump on a team pretty quick to hold them back.”
Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) entered the game as one of just 20 undefeated teams remaining in the Bowl Subdivision, and the Tigers made sure they wouldn’t slip up against the Orange (2-3, 0-1) and their raucous Homecoming crowd, a near-sellout 48,961, by taking a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
The Tigers also upped their streak to 13 straight wins by double digits against unranked teams. Only top-ranked Alabama has a longer streak (21) in the FBS.
“We talked about getting a fast start,” Swinney said. “We knew it was going to be a tough place to play, but our guys came out focused and really executed at a high level early in the game. It keeps us where we need to be.”
Boyd’s performance against the Orange pushed his career total offense to 10,421 yards in less than three full seasons. That’s third all-time in the ACC, behind only North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers (13,582) and Georgia Tech’s Joe Hamilton (10,640).
Syracuse had won six straight at home dating to the 2012 season opener and had beaten two eleventh-ranked teams handily in the Carrier Dome the previous two seasons.
Boyd had a nearly flawless first half against Syracuse’s blitzing defense, hitting 15 of his first 17 passes for 317 yards and four scores as his receivers repeatedly broke free. Sandwiched between the two scoring catches by Humphries was a 1-yard touchdown run by Zac Brooks that was set up by an 18-yard pass from Boyd to Watkins.
Orange middle linebacker Marquis Spruill blamed the early Clemson barrage on the defense.
“Miscommunication resulted in touchdowns, unfortunately. That’s what killed us,” Spruill said. “If you allow a great team like that to get open spaces on the field, open receivers are going to take advantage. It’s a big disappointment. It’s hard when you lose, but this one especially, the first ACC game.”
The Tigers upped the lead to 28-7 when Boyd hit Stanton Seckinger in the right corner of the end zone early in the second quarter. Boyd completed his first-half barrage by hitting Martavis Bryant with a 40-yard scoring pass midway through the second quarter for a 35-7 lead.
Rookie Syracuse coach Scott Shafer became irate when Swinney tried for a touchdown on fourth down from the Syracuse 5 instead of kicking a field goal in the final minute of the first half. Shafer got some satisfaction when his defense sacked Boyd, and Shafer was contrite afterward.
“Dabo’s a competitor. I’m competitive,” Shafer said. “I just felt bad I was a little over the top there.”
The Orange’s extra week of rest wasn’t much help. The Clemson defense held Syracuse to 139 yards of offense in the opening half and nearly half that total came on Jerome Smith’s 66-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt, making just his second career start for the Orange, finished 8 of 24 for 52 yards with three interceptions and was sacked four times.
No. 8 Florida State routs No. 25 Maryland 63-0
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Jameis Winston reaffirmed his Heisman Trophy candidacy with the best performance of his short career Saturday. The Florida State redshirt freshman put up career-highs with 393 yards passing and five touchdowns during a 63-0 victory over No. 25 Maryland.
The 63 points were the second-most scored by No. 8 Florida State during coach Jimbo Fisher’s tenure. Saturday was the most lopsided win against a Top 25 program in school history. The Seminoles beat No. 15 South Carolina 59-0 in 1988.
The lopsided score also tied the point-differential for the worst loss by a Top 25 team all-time. No. 11 Texas lost 66-3 to UCLA in 1997.
Winston’s weekly highlight came late in the third quarter when the pocket collapsed and Maryland linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil jumped on his back. The quarterback ducked and slid out of the sack, rolled right and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick O’Leary.
Winston became the first FSU quarterback to throw five touchdowns since Christian Ponder in 2009. He’s now thrown for 1,441 yards, 17 touchdowns with two interceptions and a 73.3 completion percentage this season.
“It felt like a little league football game out there,” Winston said. “It was 12 o’clock, the sun was out. I don’t think I saw a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful day.”
The Florida State defense was the concern throughout the week after giving up 34 points to Boston College seven days ago. Defenders got out of their lanes and missed tackles – something the Seminoles couldn’t afford against a Maryland offense that averaged 498.5 yards per game.
That was not a problem.
The Terrapins were held to 121 first-half yards and Florida State gave up a season-low 11 yards rushing on 10 attempts in the first half. Maryland punted on its first three possessions of the game, a Florida State first this season. The Terps converted just 1-of-7 third downs in the first 30 minutes and 2-of-15 all game.
“As good as the offense played today, I thought the defense played better,” Fisher said. “The defense, I thought, was the story of the day. They really took the show.”
Things became even worse for Maryland when starting quarterback C.J. Brown went down late in the second quarter with the Terrapins trailing 14-0. Brown released a pass downfield just before Christian Jones hit him around the waist and Jaccobi McDaniel followed with a blow to the chest. Brown lay on the turf for several minutes before he immediately headed to the locker room with a member of the medical staff.
Maryland coach Randy Edsall said Brown suffered a concussion and will be evaluated Sunday.
The Maryland offense was held to 234 yards and 33 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
“They have great athletes. They always do,” Maryland backup quarterback Caleb Rowe said. “They were good, but we also could have taken advantage of a few things and we didn’t do that.”
It was the Florida State offense that started slow this week, but that didn’t last long. The Seminoles scored on their first drive, a Karlos Williams 1-yard touchdown run, and then punted on the next three consecutive drives. That’s when the Winston show began.
The Seminoles scored touchdowns on their next eight consecutive possessions.
O’Leary had four receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin had five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Rashad Greene had 108 yards receiving, but saw his streak of five games with a touchdown come to an end.
Williams added another touchdown from 17 yards out in the fourth quarter and backup quarterback Jacob Coker ran for a 24-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Not really much to say today,” Edsall said. “We weren’t very good. … I take full responsibility for this. We didn’t play well offensively, defensively, special teams.
“I know the guys in the locker room. I know who they are and I know the resolve that we have and we will go back and we will look at this and get better.”
Florida State has a bye week before it travels to No. 3 Clemson on Oct. 19.
Maryland hosts Virginia next week.
Notes: Florida State starting center Bryan Stork suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return.
No. 14 Miami pulls away, tops Georgia Tech 45-30
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – Down by 10 points, the largest deficit faced by Miami in nearly a full year, there was no panic coming from anyone on the Hurricanes’ sideline.
And once they erased that deficit, everything started going their way.
Stephen Morris threw three touchdown passes, Duke Johnson finished with 325 all-purpose yards and the 14th-ranked Hurricanes shook off a problematic opening quarter to beat Georgia Tech 45-30 on Saturday, extending their best start in nine years.
“You really don’t have any leadership until you have a bead of sweat and the crap hits the fan,” Miami coach Al Golden said, borrowing a phrase from something his team was told over the summer. “And that’s what happened. I think we learned a lot about our team. We had great leadership through that, we had great poise, but it did look bleak.”
Not for long, it didn’t. The Hurricanes (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) outscored Georgia Tech 38-6 over a 37-minute stretch, more than enough to erase an early 17-7 deficit – even while turning the ball over four times for the second straight week.
Morris shook off the lingering effects of a bone bruise in his right ankle to complete 17 of 22 passes for 324 yards, Dallas Crawford ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to seal the win, and the Hurricanes averaged 10.4 yards per snap against a defense that was giving up 4.7 per play coming into Saturday.
“I’m proud to say that we’re on the right track,” Morris said. “But we’ve still got a lot of things to do.”
Phillip Dorsett, Clive Walford and Allen Hurns caught scoring passes for Miami, and Ladarius Gunter added a 30-yard interception return for another touchdown with 1:08 left.
David Sims had two rushing touchdowns for Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-2), which wasted a double-digit lead against Miami for the second straight year – plus missed a fourth-quarter extra point that would have tied the game. The Yellow Jackets controlled the first quarter, holding the ball for nearly 14 of the 15 minutes, and still lost to Miami for the fifth straight time.
“It’s frustrating,” Sims said. “The last couple of years we feel we had them on the ropes and we let them off each time.”
Georgia Tech came out with a formation that Miami hadn’t seen, which the Hurricanes described as a sign of respect. It also was a sign of trouble, since the Hurricanes were scrambling like mad against it early.
That, combined with the fact that each of Miami’s first three drives lasted exactly two plays apiece – the results were touchdown, fumble, interception – meant the Hurricanes’ defense was put to a big-time test early.
“It was like World War III out there,” defensive end Anthony Chickillo said.
Because Miami’s drives were ending so quickly, there was no time for the defense to make any adjustments on the sidelines. That didn’t happen until halftime, when defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio drew up a few fixes.
“It was as hard as can be. … They fought through it,” D’Onofrio said.
Sims’ 7-yard run opened the scoring, marking the first time since the Virginia game last season – 47 calendar weeks ago – that Miami faced a deficit, one that wound up lasting a mere 32 seconds. Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Miami 27, ran 33 yards on the Hurricanes’ first snap, and Morris found Dorsett for a 40-yard score on the very next play.
But with the score 17-7 after Charles Perkins’ 31-yard scoring run, Miami was in a two-score hole for the first time since facing Florida State last Oct. 20.
“No one was worried,” Johnson said. “We had confidence.”
They also got a break, provided by Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee, who fumbled the ball away early in the second quarter. That led to a Miami drive capped by Morris finding Walford for a score, and the Hurricanes were on their way.
“You couldn’t have scripted a better start,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “We were holding the ball, keeping the ball away from them. Had a couple of turnovers early and felt we had a lot of momentum. Then we turned it back which really hurt us.”
Georgia Tech is now 34-4 under Johnson when scoring more than 28 points. Two of those four losses have come in the past two seasons against Miami.
Hurns’ 69-yard catch-and-run late in the third Miami on top for good. After Dorsett fumbled a punt away to open the fourth, Georgia Tech answered with Sims’ second score of the game, and seemed poised to tie the game at 24-all.
But Trevor Stroebel’s snap on the point-after attempt was low, Harrison Butker’s kick went left, and Miami was energized – scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the first time since Oct. 8, 2011.
“We came out fast,” Lee said. “But they just finished.”
Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina 17
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Logan Thomas did all his damage in the first half. His defense did the rest.
Thomas matched his career high with three touchdown passes, all before halftime, and the Hokies made big plays on defense when they needed to in a 27-17 victory against North Carolina on Saturday.
“I was just happy to have a good first half, but I would have liked to see the same thing in the second half,” Thomas said. He hit Demitri Knowles for a 45-yard TD and D.J. Coles from 9 and 5 yards, but the Hokies had just 64 yards after halftime.
Instead, Thomas got to see Kyle Fuller made the biggest play of the game, intercepting a fourth-down pass to end a threat by the Tar Heels, and controlling dual threat quarterback Marquise Williams until the final minutes.
“I really like the way we played,” linebacker Jack Tyler said after holding the Tar Heels to 376 yards. “I think we played hard all week in practice even though we have been patted on the back here lately. I don’t see any complaints or anything like that. We just come to practice every day with the same motivation – we want to be the best defense in the country.”
The victory was the fifth in a row for the Hokies (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), and avenged a 48-34 loss at Chapel Hill, N.C., last season when the Tar Heels embarrassed Bud Foster’s defense by rushing for 339 yards.
The loss was the third straight for the Tar Heels (1-4, 0-2), who pulled a surprise by starting Williams in place of Bryn Renner, who injured his left foot last week. Williams played well, until he threw deep for Jack Tabb on fourth-and-1.
“I kinda had a feeling they had something up their sleeve and it just came down to reading my key and I felt the guy release and tried to make the play on the ball,” Fuller said of his interception. “It happened in slow motion.”
Williams, who was 23 for 35 for 277 yards, said he should have never thrown the ball.
“I should have just rolled on out and kept it and tried to get the first down,” he said.
Williams, 6-foor-2 and 215 pounds, also led the Tar Heels in rushing with 56 yards on 18 attempts.
The Tar Heels’ Ryan Switzer later fumbled a punt, leading to the Hokies’ final touchdown on a 1-yard run by Trey Edmunds with 4:06 remaining, rendering Williams’ 24-yard scoring pass to Quinshad Davis with 1:09 left inconsequential.
“Looking back on this game and take away two plays, it’s a whole different ballgame,” NC cornerback Jabari Price said. “You have to be perfect when you’re playing good teams like this.”
The first half was all Thomas and receivers Willie Byrn, Knowles and Coles. Thomas completed 13 of 20 passes in the half for 230 yards, accounting for most of the Hokies’ 277 yards. He finished the day 19 for 28 for 293 yards, and in the process became the career passing yardage leader at Virginia Tech with 7,308. Tyrod Taylor had 7,017 from 2007-10.
Thomas hit Byrn for 17 yards one play before Knowles got free behind the Tar Heels’ secondary for a 45-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring. After another punt by North Carolina, the Hokies drove 73 yards in 12 plays capped by Thomas’ first of two TD passes to Coles, a 9-yard bullet on third down.
Byrn caught an 18-yard pass on that drive, converting a third-and-10 from the Tar Heels’ 27.
North Carolina had gained just 26 yards on 12 plays, but Davis took a short pass 40 yards to the Hokies’ 35. A 16-yard completion to T.J. Thorpe followed, and Williams later capped the drive with a 6-yard pass to Eric Ebron for the touchdown.
Late in the half, the Tar Heels seemingly had momentum on their side and pinned the Hokies at their 2 yard-line with a punt, but Thomas found Byrn behind the secondary and hit him for an 83-yard play, the third-longest in school history that didn’t end in a touchdown. Three plays later, Thomas found Coles for a 5-yard touchdown to make it 21-7.
The Hokies bogged down in the second half, but the defense had it covered.
Wake Forest beats NC State 28-13
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe has been waiting for something different – higher energy, more fight, better execution – from his underachieving team. His Demon Deacons finally delivered Saturday.
Tanner Price threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score to help Wake Forest beat North Carolina State 28-13, extending its mastery of the Wolfpack at home.
Michael Campanaro caught two of Price’s scoring throws in a huge performance of his own, helping the Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) shake free of the funk that had hung over their first five games.
“I just had a sense that this was different,” Grobe said. “There was a different feel.”
He was right. With Price looking sharp, Campanaro continually getting open and the defense frustrating the Wolfpack’s no-huddle offense, Wake Forest earned its sixth straight home win against the Wolfpack (3-2, 0-2).
N.C. State hasn’t won here in a dozen years in a mystifying streak. The only common thread is Grobe, the 13th-year coach who coaxed the best performance of the season from his team at the perfect time.
Wake Forest was coming off a 56-7 loss at No. 3 Clemson last week, and ranked last in the 14-team league in both scoring (18.4 points per game) and total offense (316 yards) coming in.
But it was more than numbers that had frustrated Grobe, now one away from tying the school record for career wins (77). He said this week that practice work hadn’t carried over to game days and there had been “more electricity” coming from his coaching staff than his players.
This time, Wake Forest finished with 382 total yards, its best total since getting 408 in the opener against Presbyterian.
“We’ve not had one football game this year that I’ve felt good about,” Grobe said. “… I always feel great with wins but none of it felt good to me. It didn’t feel like Deacs. I told the kids we’ve got a reputation for playing Deac ball: that means full speed and smart. We just haven’t had the electricity, we haven’t had the spark. Today I felt it coming out.”
Price threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-high 82 more, while Campanaro had 12 catches for 153 yards. His first touchdown came with 6 seconds left in the opening half for a big boost. His second touchdown, a 27-yard grab on a perfect throw from Price, gave Wake Forest a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead.
“There was just a buzz in the locker room,” Campanaro said. “Everybody was talking, everyone was going. I think we were more fired up at halftime than before the game. We were getting rowdy in there. We just knew our backs were against the wall and this was a make-or-break for our season.”
As a result, N.C. State has lost eight of nine here dating to 1997. The Wolfpack’s last win came in 2001, when 10-year NFL veteran Philip Rivers was a sophomore quarterback.
“I don’t know what it is about Winston-Salem,” senior cornerback Dontae Johnson said, “but we really do struggle here.”
More importantly, the game was first-year coach Dave Doeren’s first chance to see how his team responded to playing on the road. What did he learn?
“That we don’t execute on the road the way we do at home,” he said. “We talked about it umpteen million times this week. That was my message downstairs. The message has to go from the locker room to the field and show up on game day. They knew what they needed to do today, and we didn’t do it.”
N.C. State also had eight penalties for 74 yards, including a roughing-the-kicker call that allowed Wake Forest to swap a field goal for Price’s 3-yard scoring pass to Jared Crump that made it 21-10 midway through the third.
Pete Thomas threw for 257 yards and an 11-yard score to Quinton Payton for a 10-7 lead with 39 seconds left before halftime, though Campararo’s first score – set up by a 54-yard catch-and-run by tight end Spencer Bishop – took momentum right back.
The Wolfpack never returned to the end zone in what might have been Thomas’ last starting opportunity before the return of Brandon Mitchell.
Doeren said earlier this week that Mitchell, the Arkansas graduate transfer who suffered a broken left foot after just three series in the opener, has a chance to play next week at home against new ACC member Syracuse.
Virginia falls to Ball State 48-27
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Virginia came into the game against Ball State looking for some spark from an offense that has been dreadful against FBS competition.
The defense? No worries. Other than No. 2 Oregon, no team had been able to get much going against a Cavaliers team giving up only 299 yards per game.
But a Ball State team averaging 40 points per game was more than good enough, rolling to 29 first downs and 506 total yards in a 48-27 victory Saturday. Keith Wenning threw for 346 yards to become Ball State’s all-time passing leader, Jahwan Edwards ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cardinals got plenty of help from a Virginia defense that committed drive-sustaining penalties and managed only one quarterback sack.
“A lack of poise,” Virginia coach Mike London said of the penalties. “I can count probably three or four of them that extended the drive, third-down penalties that extended the drive and that’s something that hurts you. I don’t know how many led to scores. I’ll look at that and we’ll critique that more, but you’ve got to have poise in those situations.”
Here’s at least part of what he will be looking at: A personal foul on Ball State’s first scoring drive, a roughing the passer penalty against Eli Harold that negated his sack and led to a Cardinals field goal, and facemask and offsides infractions that didn’t directly cost Virginia points but flipped field position just ahead of a couple of costly Virginia turnovers. Wenning also got a free shot when he saw a flag fly for another offsides penalty, so he went deep to Willie Snead for a 42-yard gain to set up Ball State’s second TD.
The defense wasn’t the only culprit. The Virginia offense moved the ball better, compiling 459 yards and scoring more points than it had other than the 49 it put up in a shutout of FCS team VMI, but it also made plenty of mistakes. Watford overthrew what looked to be two sure touchdowns on one early possession, a long touchdown pass to freshman first-time starter Keon Johnson was nullified by a holding penalty, and an apparent 81-yard TD pass to Tim Smith was called back when another freshman making his first start – tackle Eric Smith – was called for being an ineligible receiver downfield.
“The whole passing game, guys have to be in tune with what’s going on,” London said. “It looked like out there today that guys weren’t in tune as we needed to be because of the turnovers and the missed opportunities to covert third downs and move the chains.”
Virginia ended up with 13 penalties for 93 yards, while Ball State was penalized just once for 15 yards. Virginia also had four turnovers to Ball State’s zero.
“At the end of the day it comes down to playing relatively mistake-free football, which we did today,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said.
Wenning also ran for a score, and his 72-yard TD pass to Williams not only put him atop the school passing chart but sent many of the less than two-thirds capacity crowd of 38,228 scurrying for the exits. Wenning credited his success Saturday to his line.
“The strength of their defense is the defensive line and I think our offensive line played their butts off,” Wenning said. “I am so proud of those guys. They gave me enough time to pick them apart a little bit and we created some big plays with the running and passing game.”
Virginia defensive tackle Brent Urban said quick throws made it tough to get pressure on Wenning.
“We’ve got to try our best to get there, and we obviously didn’t,” he said.
Virginias started two new wide receivers after the coaches counted 10 drops in last week’s 14-3 loss to Pittsburgh. Also, Watford threw deep more often than in previous games, preventing Ball State from crowding the line to stop a running game that generated 236 yards – 104 by Kevin Parks, had two touchdowns. But Virginia couldn’t overcome the mistakes.
“At the end of the day it comes down to playing relatively mistake-free football, which we did today,” Lembo said.
“It’s frustrating, but we have to keep grinding,” Parks said.
Virginia led 17-7 after Watford’s 27-yard touchdown run, which was initially ruled short but was overturned after video review confirmed he nicked the pylon with the ball. The Cardinals scored the next 17 points to take the lead on Wenning’s 1-yard run before Parks scored from 2 yards out to tie it at 24.
Edwards’ 32-yard scoring run put Ball State ahead to stay.
Jordan had 159 yards receiving for Ball State, and Snead had 104.
Watford finished 21 of 36 for 290 yards.