Even after previous miss, UVA’s Farrell didn’t lose confidence; boots walk-off, game-winner

By Kenneth Cross
JerryRatcliffe.com correspondent

Brendan Farrell kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired Saturday against Old Dominion. (Photo by Michael Bruder)

Virginia kicker Brendan Farrell needed another chance. 

Actually, the Cavaliers were glad he had that opportunity after he missed a 36-yard field goal with 3:07 remaining in the game and the team nursing a 13-7 lead over Old Dominion.

Farrell’s final opportunity came after Old Dominion marched 80 yards in 11 plays and took a 14-13 lead when quarterback Hayden Wolff hit tight end Zach Kuntz with an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:01 remaining.

Virginia would get one last opportunity for a home win as quarterback Brennan Armstrong hit Lavel Davis Jr. with a 30-yard pass play to set up Farrell’s game-winning, 26-yard field goal, which gave Virginia a 16-14 victory over the Monarchs as time ran out at Scott Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

“It’s a relief, yeah, for sure,” said Farrell. “You have got to stay ready and there was a lot happened in the last two minutes of that game. You have to be ready to execute and we were able to do that.”

Armstrong drove the Cavaliers to the ODU 7-yard line where Farrell made the game-winner. It was the first UVA game-winning, walk-off field goal since 2011 when Robert Randolph booted a 23-yarder to beat Indiana.

It occurred on an afternoon where the offenses were at a minimum, as Farrell had made an earlier 26-yard field goal and a 30-yard shot as the Cavaliers were using the defense and kicking game to lead for almost all of the afternoon.

“We had a great offensive drive there and special teams, as we had made a great kickoff return and we were able to execute at the end,” said Farrell.

Farrell had to be solid, as although Virginia rolled up 513 total yards, the Cavaliers had three first-half fumbles in Monarchs’ territory that would have allowed them to break the game open early.

“The offense today was able to put up 500-plus yards and they were able to execute, and I went out there and had the belief of my coaches to go out there and do my job,” said Farrell. “It makes you feel good, and I am excited for next week.”

Virginia head coach Tony Elliott was the offensive coordinator at Clemson in 2016 when a late Tigers drive allowed them to defeat Alabama, 35-31, in the national championship game. 

“It was a little more nerve-racking on that drive in 2016, but I was calling plays and making the calls to get in position,” Elliott said. “As the head coach, I was making the decision at the end like, ‘OK, (offensive coordinator) Des (Kitchings), we’ve got 16 seconds on the clock and let’s take one shot at the end zone and protect the ball.’”

Elliott talked about how he wanted to make sure the Cavaliers did not put the game in jeopardy. He also had no problems putting the game in Farrell’s hands, even though he had missed the field goal on the previous drive before Old Dominion went ahead with the touchdown. 

“If we don’t get it (a touchdown), we are going to center the ball and we’re gonna put it on the kicker and we’re going to try to win the game when we kick a field goal,” said Elliott.

Farrell had no problem attempting another field goal to try to win the game, given the miss on the previous drive.

“I have a thing where statistically my percentage is above 50, so I think I am more likely to make it than miss it after a miss,” explained Farrell. “It helped me. It’s all process-oriented, so go through your process again and stay locked in.”

Farrell stuck to his process and gave Virginia the second win of the season, as the Cavaliers open ACC play Friday night in Syracuse.