Despite dominating the time of possession on the day, the Virginia Cavaliers fell to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 31-17, to fall to 2-9 on the season. The Hoos used to a methodical offense to move ball on each scoring drive, but gave up big plays all day and a pair of interceptions late in the game.
The first half looked to be all Virginia, using almost 13 minutes over back to back drives to put together a touchdown by Daniel Hamm — his first since last year’s game against Georgia Tech — and a field goal — a 30-yard chip shot for Sam Hayward. Virginia held on to the ball for 20:20 compared to Georgia Tech’s 9:40, and during that time, outgained the Yellow Jackets 209-111.
Under the leadership of starting quarterback Matt Johns, Virginia’s offense was productive, but an underperforming Cavalier secondary couldn’t keep up with Georgia Tech, on the ground or in the air. Georgia Tech’s first three touchdowns came off a 67-yard rush by Marcus Marshall, a 54-yard pass from Justin Thomas to Clinton Lynch, and a 60-yard rush by Qua Searcy. Three touchdown plays for a combined 161 yards.
Things went from bad to worse late in the third quarter when Johns threw an interception to give Georgia Tech the ball at the Virginia 18-yard line. The defense held the Yellow Jackets to a field goal, making it a 14-point game at 24-10.
Still, Virginia wasn’t done yet. A 6:31 touchdown drive — Ryan Santoro’s first career touchdown reception and Matt Johns’s 30th carer touchdown pass — brought the Hoos within seven with just 7:18 to play in the game.
A steadfast Virginia defense held Georgia Tech to a three-and-out after a botched Georgia Tech snap. After a punt with a mighty Georgia Tech bounce, Virginia started the next drive cornered on their own 2-yard line with 5:21 to play. Three plays letter, Johns threw the ball high, which was intercepted and immediately returned by Georgia Tech for a touchdown.
The game closed on a hail Mary that, sure enough, was intercepted.
The Cavaliers had the ball for 38:37 minutes compared to Georgia Tech’s measly 21:23. Still, giving up three 50+ yard plays for touchdowns and crucial turnovers will make it hard for any team to come out with a win.
Virginia closes out their season next week in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech in the annual Commonwealth Cup game, a series dominated by the Hokies for the past 12 years.