For the seventh straight time, the only time that the Commonwealth Cup will spend in Charlottesville is a few hours before heading back to Blacksburg on the Virginia Tech Hokies’ team bus. VT beat the Virginia Cavaliers, 10-0, for their 14th straight win in this in-state competition that can scarcely be called a rivalry any longer.
The first quarter wasn’t a particularly entertaining one, with the first six drives ending in punts and neither team crossing their opponent’s 40-yard line. As the second quarter began, the Hokies (9-3) were driving the field and poised to score, until Josh Jackson was stopped short on third down. Brian Johnson’s 30-yard field goal made it 3-0 to open the scoring.
Juan Thornhill’s second-quarter interception proved to be for naught, as A.J. Mejia missed a 41-yard field goal attempt with 27 seconds left in the half. On the first play of the third quarter, as the Hoos looked to improve on their 68 yards of total offense in the first half, Reggie Floyd forced a Chris Sharp fumble. Four plays later, Jackson found Chris Cunningham from eight yards out to make it 10-0.
UVA (6-6) went three-and-out on their ensuing possession, and a high snap on the 10th play of the Hokies’ following drive cost them 16 yards and they were forced to punt.
The teams exchanged punts in the latter stages of the third quarter, and to start the fourth, Virginia Tech had first-and-10 on their own 42 on the fifth play of the drive. Johnson went on to miss a 32-yard try with 9:27 left, and Virginia got the ball back on their own 20 with a chance to pull within a score. On second down, Kurt Benkert heaved a 51-yard pass to Andre Levrone, who made a circus catch between two VT defenders. Four incomplete passes and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Doni Dowling later, it was time for the Hoos to punt yet again.
Virginia Tech couldn’t get anything going on their next drive except for a much emptier play clock, and UVA quickly went three-and-out to finish things off.
UVA gained only 183 yards of total offense the entire game and had nine first downs to Virginia Tech’s 20.
Virginia greats like Chris Long, Smoke Mizzell, Morgan Moses, and a host of others never got their hands on the Commonwealth Cup. Former head coach Mike London came agonizingly close several times to bringing it back to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including two years ago, on what would be his final day in Charlottesville. Now, you can add the likes of Benkert, Blanding, and Micah Kiser to that list. The Hokies’ streak over UVA will live to see 5,000 days.
The senior class of Benkert, Blanding, Andrew Brown, Dowling, Jack English, Kirk Garner, Daniel Hamm, Tim Harris, Kiser, Levrone, Jack McDonald, John Montelus, Brandon Pertile, and Alec Shifflett has not seen their careers come to an end officially; there will be a bowl game in a few weeks’ time that we’ll know more about next Sunday. But for now, the pain of this game will linger for those who wear orange and blue throughout the Commonwealth for another 365 days or more.