CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Anthony Brown set what proved to be the tone for the day on Boston College’s third play from scrimmage.
Pinned at his own 6 and facing third-and-5, the redshirt freshman quarterback took a deep drop, sidestepped two Virginia defenders in the end zone and took off, gaining a demoralizing 15 yards and a first down.
That drive ended 12 plays later with Colton Lichtenberg’s 30-yard field goal, and Brown added three touchdown passes to lead the Eagles to their second consecutive road victory on Saturday, 41-10 against the previously red-hot Cavaliers.
“Today we played with a lot of confidence as a team and it showed,” Brown said.
Confidence, big plays and a defense that stifled Virginia.
Thadd Smith took a jet sweep 76 yards down the sideline for a touchdown with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter, and after a three-and-out for Virginia, Kobay White took an inside screen 76 yards down the middle of the field for another. There was 1:57 left in the quarter, and the Eagles led 17-0 and Scott Stadium was hushed.
“It’s great because it opens up the defense a little bit,” Brown said of the instant-points plays.
Brown finished 19 for 24 for 275 yards for the Eagles (4-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), and their defense limited the Cavaliers to 247 yards. BC, by contrast, was balanced: 275 yards through the air, 237 on the ground.
“We gave him a lot of confidence early,” Virginia linebacker Micah Kiser said. “The play-action game was hurting us a little bit, that screen hurt us (and) he kept rolling from there.”
Virginia (5-2, 2-1) came up well short in its bid for a fifth straight victory and bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011, and Kiser said the Cavaliers might have been their own worst enemies as a result of the success they’ve enjoyed.
“We kind of need that,” he said of the lopsided setback. “Humbles you. We were riding really high, probably a little bit too high, so you get humbled and come back on Monday ready to work.”
Coach Bronco Mendenhall has cautioned against just that since the winning streak began.
“I think we all want to skip ahead a number of chapters to see how the story ends,” he said. “It’s word by word and letter by letter and page by page and that was driven home today, again, of where we currently are.”
Ahead 17-0, the Eagles ran a flea flicker, and Brown hit Michael Walker for 46 yards, setting up Brown’s 10-yard touchdown throw to tight end Tom Sweeney. He later found Sweeney again, this time from 3 yards out.
The Eagles, meanwhile, were giving Kurt Benkert fits. They sacked him three times and had him on the run all day. His frustration finally showed in the second quarter when, scrambling left, surrounded by pass rushers and about to go out of bounds, he threw a left-handed backhand pass that was intercepted by strong safety Will Harris.
Boston College: The Eagles, in their fifth season under Steve Addazio, are making their power running game work, and used last weekend’s 364-yard rushing performance in a victory at Louisville to open things up with Brown against the Cavaliers.
Virginia: The Cavaliers were feeling good after four consecutive wins, the last two on the road, but seemed to over-focus on A.J. Dillon, who ran for 272 yards and four touchdowns last week, and under-focus on Brown and other weapons on the Eagles’ offense. With Benkert struggling, the offense was flat and the defense was on the field too long early in the game, and shocked by players not named Dillon.
Freshman quarterback Lindell Stone made his first appearance for Virginia, replacing Benkert for one play in the third quarter and throwing a pass with no receiver anywhere in the vicinity. His second pass, after replacing Benkert in the fourth quarter, was tipped and intercepted by John Lamot and returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
Stone finished 2 for 9 for 26 yards with the two interceptions.
Boston College: Has a short week and plays Florida State in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Virginia: Goes back on the road against another lower-level ACC opponent as it plays in Pittsburgh.