Perkins leads Virginia past Louisville 27-3

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              Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins (3) runs with the ball against Louisville during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Charlottesville, Va. (Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress via AP)
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — As he watched his quarterback, already dealing with a dislocated finger, hurdle over a Louisville defender, Virginia senior wide receiver Joe Reed insisted he wasn’t worried about Bryce Perkins.

“I want him to do what he does,” Reed said. “We don’t want to put any limitations on him. Bryce Perkins, he’s an athlete.”

Perkins did that and then some Saturday, throwing for 197 and two touchdowns and running for another 78 yards and a score, twice hurdling defenders, as Virginia opened ACC play with a convincing 27-3 win over Louisville.

The Cavaliers are 3-1 to open the season for the second straight year. Louisville fell to 2-2.

Virginia’s defense controlled the game. Sophomore linebacker Charles Snowden finished with eight tackles, a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and a pair of pass break-ups.

“After the interception and the sack, Zane (Zandier) said, ‘Keep stuffing the stat sheet,’ kind of as a joke,” Snowden said. “And it kind of kept happening. It was a good day.”

Perkins, a junior college transfer in his first season at Virginia, made the play of the game in the third quarter. He sidestepped a rushing Louisville defender and took off running up the middle, then hurdled a Cardinals defensive back before going down after a 36-yard gain.

“Just muscle reaction,” said Perkins, who dislocated the pinky finger on his right hand in the second quarter. “Saw him go down a little bit, so my body just instinctively jumped over him.”

That set up a short touchdown pass to Chris Sharp.

Perkins wasn’t done. He scored the Cavaliers’ last touchdown on an 8-yard run where he hurdled a would-be tackler at the goal line.

Louisville managed just 214 total yards.

“They had a good plan. Their players executed it,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “I thought our defense played hard, did some good things, but the offense didn’t do our part.”

Petrino started redshirt freshman Malik Cunningham, who went 6 for 9 for 35 yards with an interception and ran for 26 yards. Louisville turned back to sophomore Juwon Pass, the previous starter, in the second half, but didn’t get much of a spark.

Pass finished 10 for 19 for 113 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice. Petrino was non-committal when asked who would start going forward.

“It’s hard to go back and forth,” he said. “So we have to work it out.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Louisville: The Cardinals still have a question mark at quarterback after neither Cunningham, who started, or Pass, the player he supplanted in the lineup this week, could do much to get Louisville’s offense going.

The Cardinals were held without a touchdown for the first time this season and it’s not clear which player will be behind center when Bobby Petrino’s team next takes the field.

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a key victory in their quest to get bowl eligible for a second straight season. Perkins made enough plays offensively 7/8 and showed the explosive running ability that the Cavaliers have reshaped their offense around and the defense lived up to its preseason billing. With eight starters back, Virginia felt like it had a defense it could lean on this season. Saturday, that proved to be true.

KICKING WOES

Virginia sophomore kicker A.J. Mejia missed his third short field goal attempt of the young season. A year ago, Mejia struggled with distance, going 8 for 8 inside of 40 yards, but 0 for 4 beyond that mark. This season, he’s 3 for 6 on field goals, with all three misses coming from 35 yards out or closer.

Saturday’s kick in the first quarter would have given Virginia points on its opening drive. That prompted the Cavaliers to turn to freshman Hunter Pearson, who hit two short field goals after taking over.

UP NEXT

Louisville hosts Florida State on Saturday.

Virginia visits North Carolina State for the first time since 2012.

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