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Virginia upsets Louisville, ends ACC losing streak

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — “Too long.”

That is the response most Virginia football fans would give you when asked how long it has been since the Cavaliers won an ACC game.

In fact, it had been nearly two years since Virginia knocked off Miami before losing 10 straight conference games.

That streak came to an end against ACC newcomer Louisville on Saturday.

Virginia used a 42-yard field goal by kicker Ian Frye late in the game to upset the 21st-ranked Cardinals 23-21 in front of 34,816 fans at Scott Stadium.

“I’m very happy for our locker room,” Virginia coach Mike London said. “It was a long time coming for this opportunity. I’m just so happy for the players and their effort. We are going to enjoy it for a little bit and know that we have another task and another journey.”

This is the first time Virginia has won its ACC opener since London became coach in 2010.

Wide receiver James Quick of Louisville (2-1, 1-1) muffed a punt with less than six minutes remaining to set up Virginia (2-1, 1-0) with good field position.

“It’s about time it happens to someone else,” London laughed about the muffed punt. “I’ve seen it happen to us a couple of times. It’s great to have something happen in our favor and know that we deserve some of those breaks, too.”

On third-and-2 with Louisville out of timeouts, Virginia running back Kevin Parks sealed the victory with a first-down run to give the Cavaliers the upset win. Parks finished with 72 yards on 22 carries.

“It’s amazing this year. We are a completely different unit,” Frye said. “It’s unbelievable to get this win. It’s been so long.”

Louisville managed just 282 yards against the Cavaliers’ defense and turned the ball over four times.

“We’ve got a long ways to go offensively,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “We aren’t very good right now on offense and that’s my responsibility, so we have to do a better job coaching.”

Virginia drove 69 yards in nine plays on its opening possession of the second half, capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by quarterback Greyson Lambert to make the score 17-7.

Lambert completed 13 of his 24 pass attempts for 162 yards.

After an impressive opening drive, Louisville starting quarterback Will Gardner was benched because he completed just 7 of 20 passes for 90 yards and two interceptions.

Gardner made way for freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon.

The Cardinals managed four yards in the third quarter, as the Virginia defense was suffocating.

“They’re a good defensive front,” Petrino said. “They were doing a good job of getting their hands up in the air. We have to do a better job of finding the passing lane.”

Despite their struggles, the Cardinals drove 56 yards and got a 6-yard touchdown run from running back Dominique Brown to cut Virginia’s lead to 20-14 with 11:10 to play.

Brown rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries.

The Cardinals took a 21-20 lead with 6:59 to play as Quick caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Gardner, who re-entered the game in the second half.

“I thought (Will) showed his competitive spirit,” Petrino said. “He competed really hard there when we found the end zone late in the game.”

Louisville had no trouble on its opening drive, going 75 yards in nine plays, with Gardner’s 9-yard touchdown pass on fourth down making it 7-0.

Virginia safety Anthony Harris, who led the nation in interceptions last season, recorded his first takeaway of 2014 when he picked off a pass by Gardner late in the first quarter.

That interception set up a Virginia touchdown, as Lambert found Gooch for a 15-yard score to tie it 7-7 after one quarter.

Just three more points were scored, however, as the teams combined for six turnovers in the half.

NOTES: This was the first road game for Louisville as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. … It was the third meeting between the teams. A combined three points decided the first two games. … Virginia’s average of 50 yards per kick return last week against Richmond broke a school record. … Virginia has recorded 12 takeaways this season.

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