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Armstrong throws for 4 TDs, Virginia beats Abilene Christian

Brennan Armstrong threw for 383 yards and four touchdowns and Virginia beat Abilene Christian 55-15 on Saturday night.
Credit: AP
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) throws a pass against Abilene Christian during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Charlottesville, Va. (Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Brennan Armstrong threw for 383 yards and four touchdowns and Virginia beat Abilene Christian 55-15 on Saturday night.

Armstrong completed just 16 passes, but the scoring throws covered 28 yards to Tony Poljan, 90 yards to Lavel Davis Jr., 56 yards to Keytaon Thompson and 52 yards to Ra’Shaun Henry as the Cavaliers made quick work of their Southland Conference foe.

The one to Davis stood out, coming on the last play of the first quarter, because the 6-foot-7 freshman caught the ball on a slant pattern and gradually ran away from the cornerback Christopher Satterfield for the 90-yard score.

“When he caught it, I didn’t know where the corner was to get him but I thought he might be gone,” Armstrong said, adding that he’s seen Davis do similar in practice.

The Wildcats (1-5), who have had two games canceled because their scheduled opponents had coronavirus-related issues, were a late addition to Virginia’s schedule when other nonconference options fell through, and they were clearly overmatched.

The Cavaliers (4-4) started slowly, but a 33-yard run by Armstrong got their offense untracked, and his 28-yard pass to Poljan got them on the board late in the first quarter.

Shane Simpson scored on a pair of 1-yard runs in the second quarter, the second to cap a 64-yard drive that used the last 30 seconds of the half. It came after the Wildcats drove for their first points of the night on Stone Earle’s 2-yard pass to Kobe Clark.

Earle was making his first start and just his second appearance. He finished 19 of 31 for 150 yards and also ran 13 times for 20 yards.

In the second half, after two passes by Armstrong broke for long touchdowns, coach Bronco Mendenhall substituted liberally.

“It was just really gratifying to see smiles from so many players that haven’t had a chance to play this year in an actual game, after they’ve been practicing and laboring and working to help their teammate and this program move forward,” Mendenhall said.

“To be able to get so many of those guys into the game, That was, I think, the best part of the game for me,” he said.

The game was the first played under new, stricter attendance standards established by the governor because of a rise in coronavirus cases. Instead of 1,000 fans, only 250 were permitted.

Coach Adam Dorrel said he’s tried hard not to make excuses for his team this year, but that Earle started because the normal starter, Peyton Mansell, has been banged up.

“Today we were absolutely decimated by injuries and COVID. We had spots where we were one deep. Literally one deep,” Dorrel said.