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UVA safety won’t face league discipline after dirty hit on UNC’s Josh Downs

·3 min read

Virginia safety Joey Blount is not likely to receive any discipline from the ACC after an illegal hit on North Carolina receiver Josh Downs in the second half of the Tar Heels’ 59-39 win Saturday.

UNC highlighted the blindside hit in its weekly submission of plays it sends to the league office for review. (Every ACC school follows the same submission process.)

An ACC spokesperson told the News & Observer on Tuesday that “there are no forthcoming announcements,” for disciplinary actions from week three games. The league’s policy is not to comment on the process, even in the event an official missed a call.

The Tar Heels led 38-31 with 3:22 left in the third quarter and faced a second-and-11 when the play occurred. UNC running back Ty Chandler took a handoff and ran off tackle to the left. Downs cut his pattern just behind umpire Johnnie Forte and stood well away from Chandler running the ball. Downs had his back turned when Blount, making no effort to pursue the ball, delivered a blow that knocked Downs off his feet, even making contact with Forte.

The blindside hit on a defenseless player quite appeared to have helmet-to-helmet contact as well, which could have potentially meant Blount faced a targeting call as well.

Blount’s hit drew the ire of UNC defensive backs coach Dre Bly, who is also Downs’ uncle, on Monday when a video clip of the play made its rounds on social media. Bly, in a since-deleted tweet, said players accept the violence of hard hits in football, but cheap shots have no place in the game.

Former UNC receiver Ryan Switzer, who plays for the Cleveland Browns, appealed to ACC commissioner Jim Phillips.

The hit did not draw a penalty during the game, because Forte had his back turned on the play. Blount, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, was injured on the play and did not return to the game.

UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall said during his Monday video conference that he expected Blount back at “full speed” for their game against Wake Forest on Friday.

Downs, a 5-foot-10 sophomore receiver, did not get injured on the play. He continued his career-high outing that ended with eight catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns.

Gary Downs, his father who is the running backs coach at East Tennessee State, told the N&O on Tuesday that his son didn’t make any mention of the play when the two spoke after the game.

“He said nothing about the guy, or his hit or nothing like that,” Gary Downs said. “That shouldn’t have happened, but it did, but Josh doesn’t complain. He doesn’t worry about things.

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