Farrell’s walk-off FG lifts Virginia to nail-biting, 16-14 win over Old Dominion

By Scott Ratcliffe

Virginia’s Lex Long (27) blasts Old Dominion tight end Zack Kuntz (80) during Saturday’s game at Scott Stadium. (Photo by Michael Bruder)

Virginia got back on track with a thrilling 16-14 win over Old Dominion Saturday at Scott Stadium. Brennan Armstrong broke the school’s all-time passing record, throwing for 284 yards, while fellow senior Keytaon Thompson went over the 100-yard mark to lead the way, and the Cavaliers moved to 2-1 on the season on a walk-off, 26-yard Brendan Farrell field goal as time expired.

ODU (1-2) grabbed its only lead with just over a minute to play, but Armstrong led the deciding scoring drive, and the Wahoos were happy to escape with the hard-fought victory.

Virginia registered a balanced 513 yards of total offense (284 passing, 229 rushing), and managed to hang on despite committing 8 penalties for 80 yards, several of which were self-deflating and untimely, and losing three fumbles.

Virginia won the toss and elected to receive, and went long for Dontayvion Wicks on the first two plays from scrimmage, but Armstrong came up incomplete in both cases. On third down, Mike Hollins gained enough to keep the chains moving.

Armstrong went for 7 yards on his first carry before a rush for no gain by Hollins, setting up an early critical third-and-3, and Armstrong made it happen with his legs, picking up 4 on the play.

Perris Jones added another 8 yards on his first tote, just before Armstrong came up short for a wide-open Wicks on second down, but Hollins notched the first down on a 6-yard carry on the ensuing snap.

An ineligible-man-downfield penalty wiped out a Thompson reception into the red zone, and then Armstrong’s pass on second down to Lavel Davis Jr. was broken up. Armstrong escaped pressure and fired one to Wicks, but he couldn’t haul it in, setting up fourth-and-10 from the ODU 40, and Virginia pinned the Monarchs at their own 10.

On third-and-4, Old Dominion’s Hayden Wolff completed a pass to tight end Zack Kuntz to keep its initial drive alive. A few plays later, Blake Watson gained 20 yards down to the UVA 32-yard line. Two plays later from the UVA 28, just as it looked like the Monarchs would steal some early momentum, the ball was knocked loose from Wolff and into the hands of Virginia’s Chico Bennett Jr. at the ODU 38. After video review, however, the call of a fumble was overturned, much to the dismay of the home crowd. On third and long, Tariq Sims was stopped two yards short at the 24, and then the Cavaliers came up with a huge stop on fourth-and-2, as Jonas Sanker stuffed Sims a yard shy, and UVA took over from its own 23.

On the next snap, freshman Xavier Brown posted the team’s longest rush of the season, a 38-yard carry to the Monarchs’ 39-yard line, followed by a flip to Keytaon Thompson for 19 more yards and a first down to the ODU 20.

Two plays later, Jones’ 15-yard carry gave the Hoos a first-and-goal from the 3. The ODU defense then stopped Jones short on consecutive plays, but Hollins muscled one in from a yard out on third down for the game’s first points, and UVA led 7-0 with 3:13 on the first-quarter clock. The scoring drive went for 77 yards on seven plays, and got the Wahoo faithful on its feet.

The quarter ended during the ensuing ODU possession, with an important fourth-and-1 conversion from the Cavaliers’ 42 on deck to start the second.

Before the period could start, an ODU false start backed the ball up five yards and the Monarchs elected to punt it away, as the Hoos took control from their own 4.

Miami transfer Cody Brown got his first two carries as a Cavalier to start the ensuing series, setting up a third-and-6 from the UVA 8, but Armstrong could only manage to pick up a yard on third down, and Daniel Sparks came on for his second punt of the day.

Jones hustled down and recovered the ball on the punt return, as the ball deflected off of ODU’s Damien Charity, and just like that, UVA took over from the Old Dominion 49-yard line.

Armstrong was roughed on third down after an incompletion, giving Virginia a first down at the 29. Wicks then hauled in his longest reception of the season for 25 yards, setting up the Hoos with a first-and-goal from the 4. After a sack, Hollins picked up six to make it third-and-goal from the 8. Armstrong’s pass to Hollins was tipped, and Farrell came on for a 26-yard field goal to stretch the UVA advantage to 10-0 with 10:23 left in the half.

The Cavalier defense then came up with another stop, as Wolff’s deep pass for Kuntz was knocked away by Jaylon Baker, and the Cavaliers got the ball back with 8:31 to go.

Armstrong engineered three consecutive first downs — including a 28-yard toss to Wicks into ODU territory — on the ensuing possession and had the Hoos on the march, looking to do more damage before the break. With the Cavaliers on the move late in the half and knocking on the door to another score, however, the ball was jarred loose from Hollins and scooped up by ODU’s Denzel Lowry at the 5-yard line with 4:14 until halftime.

Josh Ahern’s third-down tackle put an end to ODU’s next drive, giving the ball back to the UVA offense at its own 34 with 2:01 to go, and Wicks snagged an Armstrong bullet on third down, with an ODU holding call added on, to put the ball at midfield with still over a minute left on the clock.

Armstrong faked a give and kept it himself two plays later, but coughed up the rock after picking up a first down, and Old Dominion had it at its own 36 with 51 seconds left, picking up a quick 20 yards on a first-down pass to Kuntz into UVA territory to the 44.

Wolff fit another one into Kuntz for 15 more yards to the UVA 24, but an ODU personal-foul penalty backed the Monarchs up to the 39. The visitors managed to get on the board with 19 ticks remaining, though, as Wolff completed a 29-yard touchdown toss to Ali Jennings III, the nation’s leading receiver, and Virginia held a 10-7 advantage at the half.

Neither team could get much going offensively in the third quarter. The Monarchs came out hot to start the second half, but Bennett and Kam Butler combined for a big third-down stop to kill the momentum.

When the Hoos got it back, Armstrong completed a huge gain on third down to Thompson for 45 yards, his 100th career reception (99 of which came in a Cavalier uniform) and longest grab of the season, giving the Cavaliers a little momentum of their own on their initial drive of the half.

Armstrong kept it rolling with a 24-yard hookup to Wicks, and the Hoos were back in the red zone. Armstrong directed Grant Misch’s steps on the ensuing snap for another 16 yards inside the 5. The excitement turned out to be short-lived, as Armstrong was popped hard by Ryan Henry two plays later, fumbling into the hands of ODU’s Shawn Asbury.

The Hoos went three-and-out on their second possession of the period, but then UVA senior Aaron Faumui registered a four-yard stop to set up an ODU third-and-long, and Wolff’s ensuing pass fell incomplete, and ODU punted.

Jones had a pair of nice runs to jumpstart the Cavaliers’ next march, and a few plays later, on third-and-1 from midfield, Jones was stacked up at the line of scrimmage for no gain, forcing another Sparks punt. The third-quarter clock ran out on ODU’s ensuing drive, as Butler sacked Wolff for a 7-yard loss on the final play, bringing up a third-and-long when play resumed.

ODU’s ensuing pass fell incomplete to start the final period, but a Virginia penalty for illegal hands to the face called on Ben Smiley III kept the chains moving. Old Dominion shot itself in the foot with a holding penalty on third-and-10, and then Faumui sacked Wolff for a loss of 3, bringing the punt team on as the clock went under 14 minutes.

Taking over from their own 42-yard line, the Cavaliers went to work. Thompson carried defenders across the 50 for a first down and a gain of 12 yards, and Brown added a pair of runs for another 12. Armstrong went back to Thompson for what looked like a first-down gain a couple plays later, but the ball was ruled short of the line to gain. The play went under review and the call was upheld, and UVA called a timeout to talk things over with 11:36 remaining, facing an all-important fourth-and-1 from the Monarchs’ 30. Armstrong delivered, keeping the ball and bowling over an ODU defender for a gain of 6 and a huge first down.

Brown followed that up with a 12-yard, first-down scamper down to the ODU 12, and then the Cavaliers backed themselves up with a holding penalty to move the ball back to the 19-yard line as the clock went under 10 minutes.

Armstrong picked up 7 yards on second down, setting up a third-and-10 from the ODU 12, but Thompson couldn’t secure another catch, and Farrell booted home a 40-yard field goal with 8:37 to play, making it a 13-7 contest.

Bennett came up with a sack to the delight of the home crowd on ODU’s next third-down try, and Virginia got the ball back with 7:25 to play, needing one more score to add a bit of insurance to the six-point advantage.

Thompson’s 8-yard catch on third-and-7 kept the drive alive, and then Armstrong completed to Davis for another first down before Brown hustled for 17 to the ODU 23 with just over four minutes to go.

Farrell had a chance to put things out of reach with a 36-yard field-goal try, but his attempt sailed right and ODU had one last chance with 3:07 left. Scott Stadium got loud on third-and-8 from the 22, and even louder on fourth down, but Wolff completed a pass to Kuntz for 22 yards to the 44. Wolff found Jennings for another 18 yards on the next play into Cavalier territory, and then the Monarchs gained another 10 on yet another completion to Jennings.

On third-and-7 from the Virginia 25 with 1:23 on the clock, ODU was called for a delay of game, and then Lex Long made the stop of the game as Kuntz was clobbered for a 3-yard loss. The Monarchs called a timeout to talk things over prior to their final gasp on fourth-and-15 from the 33, but Virginia again committed a self-inflicting wound with an Anthony Johnson pass-interference penalty with 1:11 to go, giving ODU an automatic first down.

Two plays later, Wolff found Kuntz for the game-tying score with 1:01 on the clock, and Ethan Sanchez’s extra point gave the Monarchs their first — and only — lead of the day, as they traveled 80 yards in 11 plays in 2:06 to go ahead, 14-13.

Demick Starling’s kickoff return gave the Hoos decent field position at their own 37, as Armstrong had 55 seconds to work with, needing only to get the Cavaliers into field-goal range. After an incompletion on first down, Armstrong found Davis over the middle for 30 yards into ODU territory, then ran for 13 yards down to the Monarchs’ 20-yard line.

ODU was then whistled for pass interference, giving Virginia a first-and-goal opportunity from the 5, and Armstrong centered the ball with just two ticks showing to set up Farrell’s game-winning kick.

You never really know when they’re going to arise, but it’s important to practice in game-like situations,” Armstrong said of the closing moments. “We did a heck of a job managing the timeout and getting the ball where it needed to go. Keytaon (Thompson) made some really great plays, and overall, we managed it really well.”

Added Thompson of the game-winning drive: “In the huddle we all just came together and said this is what it is all about. If we want to be the best group we have to secure these jobs, secure these games. Two-minute drills are something we rep a lot in practice.”

Game Stats

Scoring Summary
Old Dominion  0  7  0  7  — 14
Virginia            7  3  0  6  — 16

First Quarter
UVA (3:13) — Mike Hollins 1-yd run (Brendan Farrell kick). Virginia 7, ODU 0.

Second Quarter
UVA (10:23) — Brendan Farrell 26-yd field goal. Virginia 10, ODU 0.
ODU (14:56) — Ali Jennings 29-yd pass from Hayden Wolff (Ethan Sanchez kick). Virginia 10, ODU 7.

Fourth Quarter
UVA (8:37) — Farrell 30-yd field goal. Virginia 13, ODU 7.
ODU (1:01)  — Zack Kuntz 18-yd pass from Hayden Wolff (Sanchez kick). ODU 14, UVA 13.
UVA (0:00) — Farrell 26-yd field goal. Virginia 16, ODU 14.

Player Stats

ODU — B. Watson 21-70; T. Sims 5-17; I. Paige 1-11; I. Spencer 1-6; K. Wicks 1-1; H. Wolff 3-(-16). Total: 32-89; UVA — X. Brown 9-88; P. Jones 11-56; B. Armstrong 14-54; M. Hollins 8-29; C. Brown 2-4. Total: 45-229.

ODU — A. Jennings 7-97; Z. Kuntz 6-83; T. Sims 3-12; J. Harvey 2-20; A. Granger 2-7; I. Spencer 1-7; J. Bly 1-5; I. Paige 1-4. Total: 23-235; UVA — K. Thompson 9-118; D. Wicks 4-85; G. Misch 4-33; L. Davis Jr. 2-47; X. Brown 1-1. Total: 20-284.

ODU — H. Wolff 23-37-235-2-0. Total: 23-37-235-2-0; UVA — B. Armstrong 20-37-284-0-0. Total: 20-37-284-0-0.

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • Virginia improved to 2-0 all-time against ODU. The only other meeting between the two schools came in 2019 at Scott Stadium (UVA, 28-17).
  • UVA is 12-2 at home in the month of September since the 2017 season.
  • After a 37-yard kickoff return by Demick Starling, Virginia drove 56 yards on six plays in the final 1:01 of the game to setup a 26-yard field goal by Brendan Farrell as time expired. 
  • It marked the first UVA game-winning field goal as time expired since Robert Randolph’s 23-yarder at Indiana in 2011.
  • Virginia has won four games in the final minute of a game since the 2011 season, two of them on game-winning drives orchestrated by quarterback Brennan Armstrong.
  • The Cavaliers amassed 513 yards of total offense (229 rush, 284 pass), the 11th time in the last 15 games that UVA eclipsed the 500-yard mark.

Player Notes

  • Brennan Armstrong broke the program’s career passing record with a 17-yard completion to Lavel Davis Jr. in the fourth quarter. He passed Matt Schaub on UVA’s all-time list who threw for 7,502 from 2000-03. Armstrong accounted for 284 passing yards in the contest and now has 7,504 for his career.
  • Armstrong’s 200-yard passing performance was his 20th of his career, tying him with Schaub for the most in school history.
  • Armstrong rushed for an additional 76 yards on the ground and was responsible for 360 yards of total offense. The 14th time in 23 starts he’s gone over 350 yards of total offense.
  • Keytaon Thompson recorded his 100th career reception with a 47-yard catch in the third quarter, his longest of the 2022 season. He has caught a pass in 17-straight games, the longest active streak on the team. All but one of Thompson’s career receptions have come at UVA. He is the 27th player catch 100 passes in a Cavalier uniform.
  • Thompson finished with nine catches and 118 yards receiving, the first 100-yard receiver of the 2022 season for UVA. He has caught a pass in 17-straight games, the longest active streak on the team.
  • Thompson was one reception shy of his career-high of 11 last season at Louisville. Thompson has caught five or more passes in six of the last seven games.
  • On the final drive of the game, Armstrong hit Davis for a 30-yard pass down the middle. Of his 28 career receptions, 14 have gone for 20 or more yards.
  • Brendan Farrell went 3 for 4 in field goals with makes from 26, 30 and 26. His lone miss was from 36 yards out with 3:07 left in the game. It was his first career miss in 13 career attempts from 39 yards and in. The three field goals for Farrell were a single-game, career-high.
  • True freshman Xavier Brown rushed for 88 yards on nine carries (9.8 avg.). Brown’s ninth career carry went for 38 yards, the longest by a UVA rusher this season.
  • Mike Hollins scored UVA’s lone touchdown with a 1-yard rush in the first quarter. It was his second touchdown of the season and seventh of his career.
  • Wide receiver Ethan Davies made his collegiate debut and served as the team’s punt returner in the absence of Billy Kemp IV, who was a late scratch. He was credited with two punt returns for 10 yards.
  • Langston “Lex” Long led UVA in tackles for the second-straight week, making nine stops (two solo). He has 22 tackles in the last two games.
  • Kam Butler recorded his 17th career sack (2nd at UVA). Both of his tackles in the game went for losses.
  • Chico Bennett Jr., made four tackles (three solo) and recorded a sack for the second-straight week. The sack forced an ODU three-and-out with 7:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.
  • Grant Misch had a career-high four catches in the contest for a total of 33 yards. He had five career receptions coming into the contest.

The Hoos head back out on the road on Friday night for the ACC opener at Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPN).