U.Va. records third victory with win over Boise State 42-23

Saturday, 23 September 2017, 06:05:21 PM. The Virginia Cavaliers will enter ACC play with a 3-1 record after win over Boise State.

Boise State pulled off the breakneck start Virginia feared all week.

But a funny thing happened Friday as darkness began to fall on Albertson Stadium and the brown Boise Foothills that stand watch over it faded from view:

A long-awaited light bulb appeared to come on for the Cavaliers.

Kurt Benkert passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns and rebuilding Virginia may have turned a corner in a stunningly easy 42-23 win over heavily favored Boise State.

Andre Levrone caught five passes for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns for U.Va. (3-1), which piled up 440 total yards and held the Broncos (2-2) to 30 rushing yards.

Leading by a touchdown at halftime, the Cavaliers scored 21 consecutive points to take control as Boise State self-destructed.

In a second half filled with dropped passes, penalties and major defensive lapses, the Broncos – 13-point favorites coming in – could do no right.

U.Va. limited the perennial Mountain West Conference favorite to 383 yards of mostly one-dimensional total offense.

The victory was the Cavaliers’ largest on the road since a 48-0 win at Miami in 2007. U.Va. last scored as many points in a non-conference game in 2004.

Performing most of the evening before a vocal, near-capacity crowd of 33,947 — on national TV and on Albertson’s famed blue turf — U.Va. played its best football of the season against what was expected to be one of its best opponents..

The outcome was still somewhat in doubt until Olamide Zaccheaus broke free around the left end for a 56-yard touchdown run to put U.Va. ahead 36-14 with 6:51 remaining in the third quarter.

The play sent many of the fans who hadn’t already given up on the Broncos home early, reducing what had been a classic college atmosphere to a gathering of loudly booing family and friends.

A 1-yard scoring plunge by Jordan Ellis three plays into the fourth quarter made it 41-14 and further flooded the streets of Idaho’s scenic capital.

The Broncos salvaged some dignity with a late safety and a 40-yard touchdown pass from backup Montell Cozart to Cedrick Wilson in mop-up time, but the damage had long been beyond repair.

U.Va. built a 28-14 lead when Benkert threaded the needle between a pair of defenders for a 64-yard touchdown bomb to Levrone on the third play of the third quarter.

After stumbling out of the gate, the Cavaliers found their footing and sprinted past the hosts. But Boise State, down by two scores, nearly caught up before halftime.

Leading by a touchdown late in the second quarter, the Cavaliers took advantage of an ill-advised and poorly executed fake punt attempt by Boise State on its own 41.

Two plays later, Benkert hit Doni Dowling with a 27-yard touchdown pass to give U.Va. a 21-7 lead with 31 seconds left in the half.

But the Broncos quickly rallied, marching 65 yards in all of 49 seconds to score on Jake Roh’s 2-yard run out of the wildcat formation.

The Cavaliers took a 21-14 lead into halftime before turning it on.

Levrone’s leaping 30-yard touchdown catch with 4:11 left in the second quarter gave U.Va. a 14-7 lead. It finished off an efficient seven-play, 88-yard drive that consumed less than 3 minutes.

U.Va. first got on the board when a 2-yard touchdown run by Ellis tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter. The play completed a nine-play, 53-yard drive that consisted mostly of 34 rushing yard, most of them up the middle.

The Broncos, just as U.Va. coach Bronco Mendenhall described this week, wasted no time in asserting themselves. When Boise State received the opening kickoff and started on its own 20 after a penalty, Ryan Wolpin polished off a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Broncos a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.

The touchdown followed consecutive pass plays of 27 and 25 yards, followed by a pass interference call against U.Va’s Quin Blanding in the end zone.

But the Cavaliers decided a start was enough.

The game marked the second time the two programs had played each other. The victory avenged a 56-14 home loss to the Broncos on Sept. 25, 2015.

U.Va. improved to 5-15 in games west of the Mississippi, including last season’s 44-26 loss to then No. 24 Oregon. The Cavaliers had last won on the other side of the river in 1999, a 45-40 victory at Brigham Young.

Mendenhall, who spent 11 seasons at BYU before taking over the Cavaliers in December 2015, improved to 3-2 against Boise State.

U.Va. improved to 3-5 against members of the Mountain West.

The Cavaliers had last played at Albertson Stadium in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl, falling 37-34 in overtime to Fresno State.

Notes: U.Va. was playing without junior outside linebacker Malcolm Cook. who suffered a lower-leg injury last week against Connecticut and did not make the trip. ... Reserve quarterback De’Vante Cross saw his first action behind center for U.Va. midway through the fourth quarter. Cross has also played receiver, cornerback and on special teams this season.

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