University of Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert broke the school record for passing yards in a game on Saturday in leading the Cavaliers to a 49-35 win over previously undefeated Central Michigan.
The Cape Coral native and Island Coast High graduate went 27 of 43 for 421 yards and five touchdowns. He broke a school passing record that stood since 2010 and tied the school’s single-game touchdown record.
“He’s doing a really nice job, and he is what I want at UVA: a good player, a good student, a good person and someone that can do it all,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall told Jeff White of virginiasports.com. “He’s learning and maturing and this is his fourth start, and to break a school record in his fourth start as a college athlete, that’s pretty remarkable.”
Three of his scores came in the fourth quarter, including an 82-yard completion to receiver Olamide Zaccheaus that gave Virginia its go-ahead score with 9:36 left.
The East Carolina University transfer, a junior with Virginia, earned his first win with the Cavaliers (1-3) after three shaky starts that saw him throw four interceptions — most among Atlantic Coast Conference quarterbacks — against five touchdowns. His last two games, however, were back-to-back road games.
“It was a lot of collective effort from a lot of different guys,” Benkert told The Cavalier Daily following the win. “That last one, Smoke (Mizzell) took a swing for 53 yards, and I mean, I didn’t really have to do much. We’ve got a lot of really good players, and our o-line is getting so much better every week. And it’s just, the whole kind of cohesiveness of the offense is coming together really well.”
In four games, Benkert is 96 of 158 for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions. He’s averaging nearly 280 yards passing per game.
The Cavaliers begin their ACC schedule with a date against Duke in Durham, North Carolina.
Nunez earns honor: Indiana State freshman Jerry Nunez hit field goals of 27 and 41 yards and nailed all four of his extra point attempts in helping the Sycamores overcome No. 9 Illinois State in a 34-31 win.
For his efforts, the Missouri Valley Football Conference named Nunez its special teams player of the week. Through four games, the Naples alum is 6 of 6 on field goals and spotless in extra points. He’s tied for third in the Football Championship Series among all kickers.
Johnson’s big performance: Immokalee graduate and South Florida junior running back D’Ernest Johnson had three touchdowns and 119 all-purpose yards in a 55-35 loss to Florida State at Raymond James Stadium. He carried the ball eight times for 82 yards.
Edwards scores in loss: Island Coast graduate and Akron running back Van Edwards had a season-best 89 yards on seven carries and a touchdown during a 45-38 loss to Appalachian State. Naples alum Manny Morgan also carried nine times for 37 yards.
Gamecocks fall to Kentucky: Island Coast graduate Jordan Diggs had three tackles in a 17-10 loss to Kentucky.
Johnson finds end zone in loss: University of Connecticut running back and Palmetto Ridge alum Ron Johnson carried the ball eight times for 26 yards and scored a touchdown in a 31-24 loss to Syracuse.
Razorbacks unblemished no more: Arkansas cornerback and Island Coast grad Ryan Pulley had four tackles and one pass break up in a 45-24 loss to Texas A&M.
Byrd’s piece of history: Naples alum and Tennessee freshman Tyler Byrd can say he was a part of history Saturday, catching three passes for 40 yards during the Volunteers’ 38-28 win over Florida, which snapped an 11-game losing streak.