New year, same story. Despite having momentum coming into the game, the Virginia Cavaliers fell for the 15th straight time against in-commonwealth rival Virginia Tech. The Hoos were unable to get anything going on offense and made enough mistakes in special teams and defensively to let a depleted and demoralized VT squad come away with a 34-31 win in overtime.
Virginia Tech came up empty on their first drive as a 46-yard field goal missed wide right, but the Hoos couldn’t get anything going offensively. Perkins picked up a big run that was negated with a holding call. The Hokies sacked Perkins on third down, and the Virginia QB came up limping on the ankle he injured against Georgia Tech. VT players started chirping at the Hoos, reaffirming that no love is lost between these two programs.
Both teams traded empty possessions as neither one could get anything going offensively. After a stop by the Hoos, Virginia took over at their own 15-yard line. Back-to-back runs by Perkins gave the Cavaliers a first down, and Perkins found Zaccheaus for an eight yard pick up on first down. Facing 2nd-and-2 from the VA 33-yard line, the Hoos looked like they had a guaranteed score as first year receiver Tavares Kelly got behind the VT defense and was all alone with a path to the end zone. Perkins under-threw the ball, and Kelly wasn’t able to complete the catch.
A broken play was salvaged with a heads-up play to Joe Reed on 3rd-and-2, and he went pack to Reed for a nine yard pick up on the next play. Ellis trucked for a first down over midfield to keep the drive going as the first quarter came to a close. Rushes by Ellis, Perkins, and Ellis continued the drive with another first down in Hokie territory. The Hoos were jobbed by the referees after the Hokies were gifted the ball after replay clearly showed that Perkins’s knee and elbow was down before the ball came loose.
Virginia Tech rattled off a 43-yard on the next play, adding insult to injury, but the defense came up with three big stops to halt the Hokies momentum and get the ball back. After getting one first down, the offense stalled and Lester Coleman punted back to the Hokies with 5:47 left in the half. Virginia Tech easily worked down to the Virginia 17-yard line in four plays, setting themselves up in the red zone. Two plays later, Tre Turner hauled in a one-handed catch despite coverage from Bryce Hall to put the Hokies up 7-0 with 2:44 left in the half.
Virginia went three-and-out after the offense came up empty handed yet again. Coleman’s punt was blocked, and the Hokies recovered it in the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 1:40 left in the half. Much like they did throughout most of the first half, the UVA offense was unable to get anything going, giving Tech yet another chance with 1:22 in the half. The defense stymied the Hokies on three straight plays, and Coach Mendenhall called his final timeout to give the Hoos the ball back with eight seconds left.
Chris Sharp muffed the punt, giving VT possession at the UVA 31-yard line. Damage was limited, however, as Tim Harris picked off Willis and nearly returned it for a score. Willis was able to track Harris done—after knocking a ref out of the way—to save a touchdown and keep the score at 14-0 going into the break.
Perkins was an anemic 5-for-16 in the first half (although one was the dropped wide-open pass by Kelly) for just 34 yards. The Hoos amassed just 106 yards, while the Hokies had 198 in the first half. Ryan Willis went 8-for-15 for 72 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but his highlight was likely the touchdown saving tackle on the interception return by Harris.
Virginia started with the ball in the second half, and the Hoos rushed the first two plays before Perkins found Zaccheaus for a first down. Perkins scrambled on a broken play and somehow found Hasise Dubois for an 18-yard pickup to keep the Virginia offense moving. Back-to-back rushes for a total of 13 yards set up the Hoos at the VT 29-yard line with a 1st-and-10. The Hoos went for it, and Perkins threw a perfect pass to Reed. The touchdown reception by Reed was gorgeous, fighting of the VT defender and corralling the ball with one hand to make it 14-7.
The Virginia defense was unable to keep VT off the scoreboard as the Hokies marched down the field and nailed a field goal to make it 17-7 with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
The Hoos didn’t need more than one play on their next drive to make some noise as Perkins connected with Reed once again for a touchdown score. Reed took it 75 yards to the house, bringing Virginia within three at 17-14 with 3:57 to play in the quarter.
Defensively, the Hoos struggled again on the next possession, letting the Hokies get down to the UVA 2-yard line as the clock ran out on the third quarter with VT facing 3rd-and-goal. Tech needed just one play to score, pushing their advantage back to 10 points.
Perkins rattled off a 27-yard scramble for a first down, and the Hokies were called for defensive pass interference to move the Cavaliers down to the VT 31-yard line. The Hoos tried some trickeration with a reverse to Tavares Kelly, but his modest gain was negated by a block in the back call against Dubois. The booth reviewed the hit on the play by Ricky Walker, but inexplicably determined it wasn’t targeting despite clear evidence otherwise.
Virginia’s drive was kept alive thanks to a hold on the VT defense. Perkins rushed for 18 yards on a designed run to the VT 12 yard line, and on the ensuing play, Ellis crushed his way into the end zone to make it 24-21 Virginia Tech with 12:55 left.
The Virginia defense got a huge stop on the Hokies’ next drive, allowing only one first down before VT punted. The Hoos would get the ball back and march down the field to take a 28-24 lead and leave only 6:54 left on the clock. After stopping the Hokies again Virginia went into clock kill mode. They proceeded to go three and out to give the Hokies the ball back with 3:58 left in the game.
It would go absolutely off the rails from there.
Tech would throw two incompletions before Charles Snowden would tip a pass and come down with the ball giving UVa the ball on the VT 11 with 3:42 left. Two runs and a pass lead to a field goal to give UVa a seemingly insurmountable 31-24 lead.
UVa would force to quick incompletions before the Hokies would complete a 3rd and 10 pass for 45 yards to Dalton Keene. Keene ripped the ball from Bryce Hall’s hands who was unable to knock the ball down. Two plays later Tech would score a touchdown, but not before fumbling the ball into the endzone and through Brenton Nelson’s hands.
31-31 and two quick punts send it to overtime.
Two incompletions again and on 3rd and 10 instead of wrapping the VT QB up for a loss of 20+ and a sack, Ryan Willis escaped to throw it away keeping VT in field goal range to take a 34-31 lead.
Virginia would pick up a quick first down to take it to the VT 14 and look good. Perkins and Ellis would run into each other on the next play, botch the handoff, and fumble it to the Hokies to end the game.
15 straight. The Sports Gods owed us and gave us nothing but hope before ripping our hearts out again.