“It’s a very, very difficult reality of the sport that we play,” UVA head coach Tony Elliott said, “[that] every play can end that way. And you don’t wish that for anybody.”
In late September, Elliott noted, a Boston College wide receiver had suffered a similar injury in a collision with UVA cornerback Malcolm Greene, who was concussed on the play.
“Nobody wants to see it, and it’s tough to get back motivated,” Elliott said. “But I believe [UVA’s players] responded. We just didn’t make a couple of plays there at the end that we needed to make.”
The Cardinals (9-1, 6-1) came in having allowed only three points in their previous two games—wins over Duke and Virginia Tech—and the Hoos struggled to move the ball in the first half. Their defense was playing well, but a special-teams breakdown late in the second quarter proved costly for the Cavaliers.
Backed up in the end zone, UVA’s Daniel Sparks had his punt blocked, and Louisville came down with the ball for a touchdown that put the Cards up 14-0.
Elliott challenged his players in the locker room at halftime.
“Coach Elliott got after us, rightfully so,” defensive end Chico Bennett Jr. said. “He was just saying that we know what we came here for, and at that moment not everybody was all in like we should have been. So it was a good wake-up call and a good reminder for the [team]: Hey, let’s keep going. There were some guys who were doing what we’re supposed to do, and other guys who had one foot in and one foot out.”
That changed in the third quarter. On the opening possession of the second half, Colandrea threw a red-zone interception, but the Cavaliers kept battling, and their next drive ended with walk-on tailback Jack Griese’s one-yard touchdown run.
TOUCHDOWN HOOS!!! Jack Griese scores on 4th & 1, his first career TD!
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) November 10, 2023
Griese is part of the lineup UVA uses on quarterback sneaks, but offensive coordinator Des Kitchings fooled the Cardinals. After taking a snap under center, walk-on quarterback Grady Brosterhous did not plunge ahead as usual, but instead handed the ball off to Griese, who raced to the right corner of the end doze for UVA’s breakthrough TD.
“I was very surprised at the call,” Griese said, “and I was very excited.”
Moments later, after Matt Ganyard’s kickoff sailed into the end zone for a touchback, the Hoos gained…