Charlottesville, Va. • Virginia's Kevin Parks took a handoff, ran through a crease, broke two tackles and completed a 13-yard run for the winning touchdown in the final three minutes Saturday night.
That play was stunning, if only because the Cavaliers' longest running play until then had gone for only 6 yards. Parks' burst, coming on the first play after an interception, lifted Virginia to a 19-16 victory at Scott Stadium.
The Cavaliers' other touchdown drive covered 16 yards, after a blocked punt. Virginia's only first-half points came via a 53-yard field goal, after the offense moved 42 yards in the last minute. So Virginia's 19 points resulted from 71 yards of offense. The BYU's defense's momentary lapses and the mistakes on offense and special teams that created adverse situations spoiled a night when the Cougars allowed only 223 total yards.
The defense's standards are such that the performance was unsatisfying to BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley, who wished the Cougars had kept Virginia out of the end zone. "Especially right there at the end, there's no way they should have scored," Hadley said, citing a blown gap assignment.
Aside from allowing a touchdown pass early in the third quarter and the winning TD run, a BYU defense that ranked No. 3 in the country in 2012 was solid. Linebacker Uani Unga and lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna each made 10 tackles and linebacker Kyle Van Noy had 2.5 tackles for loss, plus a deflection that resulted in safety Craig Bills' interception.
"I don't think Virginia ever found any rhythm," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall.
The Cavaliers converted only 6 of 20 third-down plays and went three-and-out on eight possessions, including three consecutive drives in the third quarter.
BYU's new cornerbacks, Robertson Daniel and Skye Povey, held up reasonably well as Virginia passed for 114 yards. The secondary's biggest failing came at the end of the first half, when a 20-yard completion on a third-and-10 play kept alive the drive that resulted in a field goal. Virginia's touchdown pass came on third-and-5 from the BYU 11.