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Mandy Alonso has not had good experiences playing in his hometown of Miami, Florida during his UVA football career.

Prior to Thursday night, the senior captain had played in four games at Hard Rock Stadium over the course of his career and Virginia was 0-4 in those games, including a 36-28 loss against Florida in the 2019 Orange Bowl.

“Just, I’ve never won down here, even in the Orange Bowl,” Alonso said. “It’s been frustrating the last three or four times.”

As time wound down in a game in which Alonso had shined on the defensive end, it appeared that Alonso’s last game in Miami would end in yet another heartbreaking loss for the Hoos, as the Hurricanes lined up a chip-shot field goal to win the game.

What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary.

Andres Borregales’ 33-yard field goal attempt drilled the left upright and fell harmlessly back into the field of play as a sea of Virginia players stormed the field in jubilation.

“It was a roller coaster of emotions,” Alonso said after the game. “We knew by second down that we had to win on a field goal and probably block it or do something. It’ll come down to that. Just seeing the ball go up and hit the post, it was just crazy. It was honestly surreal for me.”

Alonso was a monster on the defensive end, recording five total tackles, including three tackles for loss, two sacks, and a safety. Punter Jacob Finn had pinned Miami deep in their own territory and the Hurricanes began their drive from their own one-yard line. They attempted to create some breathing room on their first play by running it with Cam’Ron Harris, but Alonso had other plans. Alonso broke through the offensive line and grabbed Harris by the ankle in the end zone, before a cavalry of UVA defenders came in to help him wrap up the tackle for the safety.

“We knew they were pinned down to their own end zone and we were just trying to get after them,” Alonso said. “We knew they were probably going to try to run it out. And we just came in through the inside and I came free and I was lucky enough to make that play.”

Alonso seems to always deliver solid performances when he plays in Miami, as he has recorded at least two tackles and one or more tackle for loss in every game he has played in Hard Rock Stadium, including the 2019 Orange Bowl.

After Alonso sacked Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke to start the second half, former UVA linebacker Zane Zandier tweeted “Miami Mandy is DIFFERENT.”

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We can’t help but agree with his assessment.

Alonso seems to feed off of the added energy and importance of playing in his hometown with friends and family in the stands.

“I love seeing my family in the stands and just all my friends from down here,” said Alonso. “Even some of them are Miami fans, but when I come down here, they put on a UVA shirt or a 91 shirt and they cheer me on. That’s really special to me.”

It was even more special that the Hoos were able to pull off the victory in Alonso’s final game in Miami. Alonso got his first career win in his hometown, but he says that the win is more significant for the rest of the UVA football season.

“It means a lot,” Alonso said. “Just getting that one, it’s just refreshing. Especially at the time of the season that we are at now, where we were 2-2 and we were battling adversity coming off those two losses, it was amazing.”

With the support of many of his teammates, Alonso earned the honor of breaking the rock following the win.

Alonso also shared a video message to the UVA football fans following the game.

Alonso and the Hoos will look to build on this win as they face another tough road test next Saturday at Louisville. 

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