It was about as disastrous a start as you can have in a football game, but Virginia still managed to bounce back a bit — only to stumble right back into the hole they’d dug in the first place. And then began the climb out of it late, albeit maybe too late as far as their faithful are concerned.
Looking strong to start and (mostly) finish the half, Boise State had its way with UVa. en route to a 29-14 halftime lead on the reeling Cavaliers. The Broncos’ defense was especially stout, showing its strength from the get-go and then continuing to put points on the scoreboard.
On the first play from scrimmage, UVa. quarterback Matt Johns — the same one who beat out record-setting Georgia starter Grayson Lambert in spring practice — threw an ill-advised pass under pressure that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by BSU defensive tackle Justin Taimatuia for a 21-yard touchdown. A three-and-out on the Cavs’ next possession was quickly followed by a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive for the Broncos. Another Johns interception on the third possession led to a 51-yard field goal.
Before their fans could even settle in, the Cavaliers trailed 17-0 less than halfway through the first quarter. A minute later, though, North Carolina transfer T.J. Thorpe, in his initial action of the season, caught his first pass as a Cavalier and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown reception that sliced the lead to 17-7 and gave renewed energy to the rain-soaked crowd.
The score remained the same until midway through the second quarter when first-time starter Brett Rypien, nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, hit Jeremy McNichols from 10 yards for his first career touchdown pass and a 26-7 lead. An end-zone penalty called on Johns — intentional grounding — a minute later and a 30-yard field goal with 5:11 remaining in the half pushed the Broncos’ lead to 29-7.
A 45-yard touchdown pass from Johns with three minutes remaining, though, cut the lead to 26-14 and seemingly gave the Cavaliers some momentum heading to the half, even as they were booed off the field by their own fans heading into the locker room.
Rypien completed 17-of-23 passes for 206 yards, while his counterpart, Johns, completed half of his 18 passes for 182 yards. McNichols led all rushers with 57 yards on the ground, while the Cavaliers were limited to 24 yards rushing on 17 carries.