No. 11 Louisville hangs on to defeat Virginia, 31-24, spoiling upset bid

By Scott Ratcliffe

Photo: University of Louisville Athletics

Once again, Virginia found itself in a one-possession contest in the fourth quarter — this time, the Cavaliers held a 7-point lead midway through. However, missed opportunities on offense and a couple of key miscues on defense and special teams all added up to a 31-24 loss on Thursday night at No. 11 Louisville.

The Wahoos (2-8, 1-5 ACC) gave up two killer plays in the final 6 1/2 minutes, both of which resulted in six points, as the Cardinals took one step closer to a trip to the conference championship game next month.

Anthony Colandrea filled in admirably for injured starting quarterback Tony Muskett, as the true freshman completed 20 of his 31 attempts for 314 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and also led the team in rushing with 89 yards on 14 carries. On the evening, Colandrea accounted for 403 of the Cavaliers’ 434 total yards, after Louisville had held its previous five opponents under 300.

Malik Washington had another huge day, finishing the contest with 155 yards and a score on just nine catches, but the Hoos ultimately let another potential upset over a top-15 opponent slip away.

Louisville (9-1, 6-1) held a 14-0 halftime lead, stretching its streak of quarters without allowing a touchdown to 10, but the Hoos put an end to that on their second drive of the third quarter.

Backup QB Grady Brosterhous was called into the contest for a “tush-push” sneak on a critical fourth-and-goal from the Louisville 1-yard line, but the play was whistled dead due to the Cardinals not having a chance to substitute.

Tony Elliott elected to stick with Brosterhous, and everyone in the stadium expected another scrum of bodies at the goal line, but Brosterhous faked the sneak and handed it off to Jack Griese, who took it around the right edge and into the end zone, cutting the deficit in half, 14-7, with 4:15 left in the third. The risky call paid off, capping an 11-play, 80-yard scoring march.

On the very next play from scrimmage, first-year linebacker Kam Robinson knotted the score at 14-apiece, leaping up and snatching a Jack Plummer pass out of midair and taking it 28 yards to the house for his first collegiate touchdown just 10 seconds later.

The UVA defense fed off the momentum, holding the Cardinals to a three-and-out — highlighted by a Paul Akere third-down sack — and got the ball right back.

On the ensuing possession, on a second-and-27 from right around midfield, Colandrea connected with Perris Jones on a short dump-off pass. Jones was drilled by a Louisville defender on the play and was eventually carted off the field and taken to the nearby hospital after laying motionless on the field for several minutes.

When Jones was hit, he lost control of the football, but Washington was in the right place at the right time, scooping up the ball and racing all the way to the end zone to give the Cavaliers the lead with 41 seconds left in the period, capping a flurry of 21 unanswered points in a matter of just over 3 minutes.

Louisville cut it to 21-17 on a Brock Travelstead 35-yard field goal with 11:15 remaining, but the Hoos answered with a 38-yarder from Will Bettridge with 7:54 to go, pushing the advantage back to 7. Four plays later, Plummer tied it back up on a 52-yard strike to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce, who got past the UVA secondary and was all alone down the field with 6:20 to play.

The Cardinal defense came away with an important third-down stop, batting down a Colandrea pass at the line of scrimmage, and Virginia punted it away with 3:36 on the clock. From there, it took just 11 seconds and 73 yards of real estate for Isaac Guerendo to find a hole and hustle to the house untouched for what turned out to be the game-winning score.

The Hoos had one last shot at it, and were on the march at midfield when the clock went under two minutes, but Colandrea’s final two pass attempts fell incomplete and the Cards went into victory formation.

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • Louisville owns a 7-5 advantage in the all-time series.
  • UVA is 1-5 all time against Louisville in games at L&N Stadium.
  • Virginia dropped to 1-5 this season in games decided by one score.
  • Virginia compiled 434 yards of total offense against Louisville which came into the contest as the No. 12 defense in FBS and No. 2 in the ACC. UVA’s 314 yards passing were the most Louisville has surrendered this season (Georgia Tech – 313).

Player Notes

  • Wide receiver Malik Washington caught nine passes for 155 yards and a touchdown, his fifth-straight 100-yard receiving performance, the longest active streak of anyone in FBS. He is the first receiver to go over 100 yards receiving against Louisville this season.
  • For the season, Washington has 88 receptions for 1,199 yards and has caught seven touchdowns. He is five yards shy of breaking the UVA single-season receiving yards record (Dontayvion Wicks – 1,203 in 2021) and six receptions away from eclipsing the program’s single-season receptions record (Olamide Zaccheaus – 93 rec. in 2018).
  • Washington has caught a pass in 35-straight games dating back to his time at Northwestern.
  • Washington became the 14th active receiver in FBS to go over 200 career receptions. He came into the contest with 199 career catches.
  • Kam Robinson intercepted his second pass of the season and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14. It was the first interception return for a touchdown since D’Sean Perry returned an interception 84 yards for a score against Abilene Christian in 2020. Robinson finished with four tackles including his first career sack.
  • Quarterback Anthony Colandrea was 20-for-31 with 314 yards passing and one touchdown. He also accounted for a season-high 89 rushing yards on 14 attempts. His 403 yards of total offense are season high and the most by a UVA player since Brennan Armstrong’s 460 total yards against Pitt in 2021.
  • Colandrea completed his first nine passes and recorded his second 300-yard passing game of the season (377 vs. James Madison).
  • Malachi Fields caught four passes for 85 yards, his second-highest receiving yardage total of his career. He has amassed 60 or more yards receiving in nine of UVA’s 10 games this season.
  • Jonas Sanker led Virginia in tackles (11) for the third-straight game and sixth time overall this season. He leads the team with 90 total tackles including 61 solo efforts.
  • Paul Akere was credited with his first sack of the season and 11th of his career (five have come at UVA).


The Cavaliers will play their final two games of the season at Scott Stadium, beginning with next Saturday’s 3-p.m. contest against Duke (The CW Network). UVA will wrap things up on Nov. 25 against Virginia Tech (time, TV to be determined).