CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Brennan Armstrong thinks Virgina is playing its best football at the right time.
The redshirt sophomore threw for a touchdown and ran 60 yards for another Saturday as Virginia beat Boston College 43-32 for its first victory ever against the Eagles.
It' was the Cavaliers' fourth consecutive victory with one regular season game left.
“Us putting together what we have the second part of the season, I think that gives us confidence more than anything knowing we're rolling now,” Armstrong said.
The Cavaliers, who lost four in a row before the winning streak, improved to 5-4, 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and play at rival Virginia Tech next Saturday.
Armstrong carried the ball 17 times and finished with 130 yards, including the 60-yarder in which he ran through the left side of the line and outran several defenders. He passed for another 287 yards, including a 47-yard TD to Ra'Shaun Henry. He became the first quarterback in Virginia history to have 400 yards of offense in consecutive games.
The Eagles had allowed Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker to run for 143 yards in a 40-14 loss, and Louisville's Malik Cunningham to run for 133 in t he Eagles' 34-27 win last week, and the Cavaliers suspected they would have success there, too.
“We felt like the QB stuff was going to be there and it paid off for us,” he said.
Backup quarterback Keytaon Thompson added 86 rushing yards, including scoring runs of 10 and 43 yards, and Wayne Taulapapa scored on a 1-yard run.
The Eagles (6-5, 5-5) played without injured starting quarterback Phil Jukovec and top running back David Bailey. Dennis Grosel filled in admirably, throwing for 520 yards and four scores, but two interceptions turned into 95- and 80-yard touchdown drives.
“With the picks, that's huge,” Armstrong said. "... We put points up, momentum shifts."
The Cavaliers also got scoring runs of 10 and 43 yards from Thompson, and one from Waye Taulapapa, as they piled up 262 rushing yards and 549 yards to overcome the huge effort by Grosel, who finished 32 for 46.
Virginia led 20-17 at halftime and scored the first 16 points after halftime.
The Eagles scored 10 points in the last 67 seconds of the first half. Grosel hit Hunter Long well behind the defense for a 36-yard score, and Jahmin Muse intercepted Armstrong two plays later. Four consecutive completions by Grosel got BC to the Virginia 23 and Aaron Boumerhi kicked a 35-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it 20-17.
The Cavaliers had taken a 20-7 lead with two touchdowns in a span of less than three minutes in the second quarter. First, Armstrong capped a 95-yard drive set up by Da'Vante Cross' interception with the scoring pass to Henry, his fourth touchdown catch in as many receptions at that point on the season.
After the Eagles went three-and-out, Armstrong hit Tony Poljan for 23 yards, Henry for 29 yards and then Thompson, in a formation with Armstrong, ran it in from the 10.
Boston College: Grosel started seven games and played in all 13 last season, but had played sparingly before relieving Jurkovec last week and throwing a pair of touchdown passes. He had thrown just eight passes this year but was 17 for 23 for 251 yards by halftime and had his success in the air despite a running game held to minus 7 yards.
Virginia: Coach Bronco Mendenhall favors having a quarterback who is a running threat, and while Armstrong is more of a bruising runner than the quicker and more elusive Bryce Perkins, the Cavaliers' QB the last two years, he's come through with a lot of key runs and on the 60-yard run showed surprising speed for his power back approach.
Mendenhall was effusive in praise for his team, which overcame the four-game skid and has managed the coronavirus pandemic pretty well since convening July 5.
“The longer this has been going, it just seems like we have been gaining momentum instead of losing momentum,” he said.
The Eagles regular season is complete and they will await a bowl bid.
Virginia finishes the regular season next Saturday at Virginia Tech.
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