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UVa football notebook: Farrell breaks rock, former ‘Hoos honored

UVa football notebook: Farrell breaks rock, former ‘Hoos honored

Brendan Farrell had come close to breaking the rock in previous weeks.

Bronco Mendenhall considered the sophomore kicker to wield the sledgehammer after the team’s close win over Miami, but defensive end Mandy Alonso earned the honor. Darrius Bratton was the logical choice after a win over Louisville thanks to his touchdown-saving tackle late in the game.

Saturday, after a 48-0 win over Duke filled with solid performances, Farrell earned his turn. He knocked both his field goal attempts through the uprights, made all of his extra points and performed well on kickoffs.

“It’s a great story,” Mendenhall said.

Farrell’s journey to the starting kicker role is unexpected. Hunter Pearson, a junior kicker, hurt his leg in the offseason while running a fake field goal in practice. There wasn’t any contact on the play, but he’s unavailable as a result.

Justin Duenkel then won the starting job, but got hurt against Wake Forest. Farrell has stepped in since, making six of his seven field goals. His only miss was a 55-yard attempt at Louisville.

“I don’t want to make it too big a story because I want to just to keep going like it is, and it’s awesome,” Mendenhall said.

Defensive masterpiece

For the first time this season, UVa (5-2, 3-2 ACC) won the turnover margin. The Cavaliers committed one turnover and forced four. Virginia had lost the turnover battle in each of the four previous ACC games this fall.

The defense recorded a pair of interceptions and recovered two fumbles. The team hadn’t forced more than two turnovers in a game this season.

UVa also kept Duke off the scoreboard, posting its second shutout of the season. It’s the first time since 2008 that Virginia has posted two shutouts in the same season. Virginia defeated William & Mary 43-0 in the season opener.

“Man, it means the world,” linebacker Nick Jackson said. “As a defense you never want anyone to cross the end zone. When we’re at home and defending our turf, just to see that shutout, I mean all the hard work throughout the week pays off.”

Virginia held Duke running back Mataeo Durant to 82 rushing yards on 17 carries. Durant averaged 131 yards per game heading into this week.

Mendenhall praised his defensive coaches, mentioning them by name after the win.

“They’ve been working their guts out,” Mendenhall said.

After horrendous showings in consecutive weeks to open ACC play, Virginia’s defense seems to be improving.

Poindexter honored

Former UVa defensive back Anthony Poindexter, the 1998 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was honored during Saturday’s game as part of the National Football Foundation’s Hall of Fame “On-campus Salute.”

Poindexter is a member of the 2020 NFF Hall of Fame class. The “on-campus salute” event allows each Hall of Fame inductee to return to their former schools. They all receive Hall of Fame plaques, which are displayed at their former university.

Poindexter was honored between the first and second quarter of UVa’s 48-0 thrashing of Duke. A highlight reel was played on the video board drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. A number of the hard hits would likely draw targeting penalties today, but a few decades ago the physical blows were celebrated.

Prior to Poindexter’s moment, five UVa football players who integrated the football program back in 1970 were honored.

Harrison Davis, Stanley Land, Kent Merritt, John Rainey and Gary Ham were honored during the opening quarter. The players, along with former head coach Al Groh, received a standing ovation from the 38,489 fans in attendance.

Ham, a walk-on, played on the varsity team in 1970. The other four players were on the freshmen team. Their few minutes on the field resulted in one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon.

Injury notes

Joey Blount returned to the Cavaliers’ lineup Saturday at safety. Blount missed the Louisville game with injury. He recorded an interception and four tackles in the victory.

“Every game missed you realize how grateful you are for the game and how much the game gives to you and how much work you put in,” Blount said.

UVa was without defensive back Fentrell Cypress III, who missed the game with an injury. The Cavaliers were also without Josh Hayes, who entered the transfer portal earlier this week.

Offensively, running back Mike Hollins missed the game due to injury. Dontayvion Wicks, one of the team’s best wide receivers, returned to action after missing the final three quarters against Louisville. Offensive lineman Chris Glaser exited the matchup in the first half and was unavailable for the rest of the contest.

Placekicker Justin Duenkel was still unavailable for UVa. Farrell played admirably in his place.

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