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QB rotation helped UVa get back in the game, but miscues let it get away

QB rotation helped UVa get back in the game, but miscues let it get away

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Inquiring minds arriving at Wake Forest prior to Saturday’s football game were inclined to look for Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong.

One week earlier, Armstrong had taken a blow to the head during the Cavaliers’ 38-21 loss to North Carolina State and subsequently been placed in a quarterback “protocol.”

While it had become increasingly likely that Armstrong would not play, that didn’t become certain until Saturday, when he was not in uniform with teammates for pregame workouts.

As was expected, redshirt junior Lindell Stone took the field for UVa’s first offensive series, but he was one of three players who took snaps, including true freshman Ira Armstead and senior Keytaon Thompson, a transfer from Mississippi State.

Thompson played quarterback in 20 games for Mississippi State but sustained a shoulder injury early in the preseason this year, keeping him from attempting a pass in the Cavaliers’ first three games.

And, he still hasn’t thrown a pass, although he was taking shotgun snaps roughly 5 yards before center.

Thompson led the team in rushing with 10 carries for 71 yards, including a 19-yarder. Armstead, listed as a quarterback, was another scrambler who had the longest run of the night, that going for 22 yards.

“We’re looking for complete play at quarterback after losing Brennan,” UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall said, “and, so we tried to innovate and use them in a manner that would be helpful to us.

“Both Ira and [Thompson] were probably around 7 yards per rush. I thought, collectively, our approach gave us a chance.”

It was a 23-20 game going into the fourth quarter. Brian Delaney’s third field goal of the game made in a 23-23 game with 13:28 left. But then Wake’s Kenneth Walker III went 75 yards for a touchdown on the first play after the ensuing kickoff.

For the Cavaliers, the situation went from bad to worse as UVa return man Perris Jones fumbled the next Wake kickoff. That led to a 9-yard Walker run for his third TD of the game, and the contest was practically over.

“I thought, collectively, our approach [with the quarterbacks] gave us a chance,” Mendenhall said. “We didn’t execute well enough to finish the game.”

Virginia has not beaten Wake Forest since 2007, although they had met only two times since 2008.

“To play the way we did, I’m extremely proud of the fight and competitiveness,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It would have been pretty bad for us in practice on Tuesday to be sitting at 1-3.”

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they’ll know all about it.

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Doug Doughty is in his 44th year at the Roanoke Times, having produced an estimated 10,000 by-lines, a majority of them on University of Virginia athletics.

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