Charlottesville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Ian Frye's 42-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter lifted the Virginia Cavaliers to a 23-21 victory over the 21st-ranked Louisville Cardinals on Saturday.
Greyson Lambert completed 13-of-24 passes for 162 yards with a passing touchdown, a rushing score and an interception for Virginia (2-1, 1-0 ACC), which last defeated a ranked opponent on Nov. 19, 2011, a 14-13 victory over then-No. 23 Florida State.
"I'm very happy for this locker room," UVA head coach Mike London said. "It's been a long time coming. I believe this team is a team that has great resilience and never quits. If you can have those components in a football team, you can go far."
Miles Gooch hauled in four passes from Lambert for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Will Gardner struggled mightily for the Cardinals (2-1, 1-1), who were playing their first road game as a member of the ACC. Gardner converted 14-of-34 passes for 164 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"That is a tough loss for us. We didn't play well enough to win the game. That is the bottom line," Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino said.
Dominique Brown rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown, while James Quick and Charles Standberry each had a touchdown reception in the setback.
Trailing 20-7 early in the fourth, the Cardinals finally got their stagnant offense going with a 56-yard scoring march. Gardner completed a 28-yard pass to Keith Towbridge on third down, just Louisville's second third-down conversion to that point, and Brown rushed for a 6-yard score later to help cut the deficit to 20-14.
After the Cardinals defense forced a three-and-out, Gardner was intercepted deep in Virginia territory. However, a roughing the passer penalty on Henry Coley kept the drive alive. Gardner then found Quick for a 4-yard touchdown on the ensuing play to give Louisville its first lead since the opening quarter.
Virginia was forced to punt on its next touch, but Quick was bumped by his own man as the ball hit him with Virginia recovering at the Louisville 25.
Frye then came on after three unsuccessful plays to give the Cavs the lead for good.
Eli Harold came up with a big sack of Gardner, a loss of 10 to the Cardinals 3, on the next possession which ultimately forced a punt. Virginia converted two first downs when given the ball back and ran out the clock to ensure the win.
A key fourth-down conversion on Louisville's first drive helped the Cardinals grab an early 7-0 lead. Gardner led the visitors down the field and was faced with a 4th-and-1 from the Virginia 9 when he hit Standberry in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.
The Cavs answered with a lengthy drive on their ensuing possession, but Lambert fumbled at the Louisville 35 and Sheldon Rankins was there to recover the loose ball.
The Cardinals couldn't do anything with the turnover, then Virginia knotted the score late in the first after Anthony Harris intercepted Gardner deep in Cardinals territory. On 3rd-and-10, Lambert hooked up with Gooch for a 15-yard score to make it a 7-7 game.
The second quarter was sloppy as each team committed a pair of turnovers. Virginia squandered an opportunity to take the lead late in the period after recovering a fumble at the Louisville 17. The Cavs moved the ball to the 10 before Matt Johns was intercepted by Gerod Holliman on 3rd-and-3.
Gardner's second interception of the quarter led to a 35-yard field goal from Frye as Virginia took a 10-7 lead into halftime.
The Cavaliers opened the second half with a nine-play, 69-yard touchdown march. Lambert converted a 31-yard pass to Darius Jennings, then Virginia's signal caller waltzed into the end zone four plays later on a zone read from 10 yards out to make it 17-7.
Frye added a season-long 47-yard field goal with just under three minutes left in the third to extend the cushion to 13. Louisville ran just nine plays in the third and didn't convert a first down.