Virginia’s 2019 home ACC schedule started the same way it ended: with fans storming the field.
When the Cavaliers beat Florida State 31-24 on Sept. 14, UVa fans rushed the field in celebration. The victory came a night after the basketball program raised a national championship banner, and fans were thrilled with a perfect weekend.
“It helped us win,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said of the crowd at the FSU game. “I’m appreciative of that. From the student section to the fans to the upper deck to the hill in the end zone, it was like, man, what an amazing setting.”
UVa fans rushed the field again on Friday afternoon when the Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2 ACC) upset Virginia Tech 39-30 on Senior Day. The win was Virginia’s first over its in-state rival since 2003. It was a historic victory for Virginia, and fans rejoiced.
Along with the the two field stormings were five other UVa victories at Scott Stadium. For the first time since 1998, the Cavaliers completed a perfect home season.
Virginia went 7-0 at Scott Stadium, and the Cavaliers were fantastic in those seven games. Of the seven victories, four were double-digit wins. Virginia averaged 40.1 points per game at home this season compared to just 23.6 points per game on the road. The Cavaliers outscored opponents 286-157 across their seven home wins.
A 35-point win over William & Mary was the most lopsided win of the home slate, although a 34-point victory against Duke was a close second.
Of the many impressive statistics that define UVa’s home season, the team’s play in the fourth quarter might be the most telling. With the crowd at its loudest and the game on the line, the Cavaliers outscored opponents 97-37 in the final quarter of home games.
Virginia outscored Florida State 21-7 in the fourth quarter to open home ACC play, and the Cavaliers outscored Virginia Tech 19-3 in the final 15 minutes to finish off a perfect home season.
UVa went 3-0 at home when trailing entering the fourth quarter.
“If we’re down, we’re never out of the game,” receiver Hasise Dubois said after beating Virginia Tech. “If we’re down, we’re always gonna battle back regardless of the score, regardless of the situation. We’re always gonna battle back, and that’s just us as a program.”
The best home season in more than two decades came in front of one of the better home atmospheres in recent memory. An average of 47,811 people came to Scott Stadium in 2019. Virginia had more than 52,000 fans for home games three times this season, including a season-high 57,826 fans for the Florida State game. Virginia’s game against Liberty drew a season-low 37,329 people.
For comparison, Virginia averaged 39,929 fans in Mendenhall’s first season in 2016. The Cavaliers failed to eclipse 50,000 fans at any game in the first three seasons under Mendenhall. This season’s game against Florida State was the first time since 2015 against Virginia Tech that Scott Stadium welcomed 50,000 fans for a game. This is the first season since 2013 that Virginia surpassed 50,000 fans at three different games. UVa’s home-field advantage is growing. The Cavaliers are 12-1 at Scott Stadium since the start of the 2018 season.
As Virginia’s program improves, so does the atmosphere in Scott Stadium.
Mendenhall’s first home game as head coach ended with Virginia fans leaving disappointed after the team’s 37-20 defeat against Richmond. Mendenhall could barely be interviewed following his most recent home game, as fans mobbed the head coach and quarterback Bryce Perkins as they spoke with ESPN after beating Virginia Tech.
“For all those that attended today, I’m grateful for their attendance, their support and for what it looked like in Scott Stadium,” Mendenhall said. “I had a vision or a thought of what that could be four years ago, and today was as close as I’ve seen to what is possible at Scott Stadium.”