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The Commonwealth Cup: By the Numbers

Virginia defeated Virginia Tech on Friday. Let’s look into the game a little further!

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Before we move on to this weekend’s ACC Championship game against Clemson, let’s take a quick look back at Friday’s ridiculous game against Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers ended the Hokies’ 15-game wining streak, winning the ACC Coastal Division in the process. In case you forgot how it all went down (or just want to relive it), here are the highlights:

Let’s take a look at the game By the Numbers:

9 - With the victory over Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers earned their ninth win on the season. It’s the first time that Virginia has hit that milestone since the 2007 season (when Virginia went on to lose the Gator Bowl under Al Groh, but that’s neither here nor there). Coach Mendenhall led Virginia to eight wins last season, including the victory over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl, and Mike London’s 2011 team finished the regular season 8-4 before losing in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Could Virginia hit 10 wins for the first time since 1989?

6 - Virginia Tech QB Hendon Hooker did his best Bryce Perkins impersonation in the third quarter, scoring one TD with his feet that tied the game at 13. He did, however, have several up close and personal interactions with the Virginia defense as the Hoos sacked him six times, including three on the drive following Brian Delaney’s 48-yard field goal that gave Virginia the lead. Beyond that, the defense made everything miserable for Hooker and the Hokies most of the day. VT faced these long third downs over the course of the game:

  • 3rd-and-20 (2Q)
  • 3rd-and-18 (2Q)
  • 3rd-and-12 (4Q)
  • 3rd-and-14 (4Q)
  • 3rd-and-20 (4Q)
  • 3rd-and-21 (4Q)

That’s...impressive. On the 4th quarter 3rd-and-20, Noah Taylor came up with his second pick of the game. That gave Virginia the ball in a tie game with just under five minutes to play. On 3rd-and-21, Mandy Alonso sacked Hooker in the end zone, forcing a fumble that Eli Hanback pounced on to secure the victory.

19 - Virginia entered the 4th quarter trailing Virginia Tech 27-20. The Hoos would go on to score 19 points over the final 15 minutes, allowing the Hokies just a field goal in the same span. Wayne Taulapapa’s touchdown 1:30 into the quarter, and Delaney kicked the game-tying and game-winning field goals. Hanback capped it all off with the fumble recovery in the end zone.

The Virginia offense came alive in the second half of the season, scoring an average of 41.3 points per game in the month of November. Virginia put up at least 33 points in every game since the loss at Louisville. That’s...good.

+3 - Bryce Perkins threw an interception in the first quarter that resulted in three points for the Hokies, but otherwise the Hoos took good care of the ball while creating extra opportunities for themselves. Jordan Mack forced a fumble on Tech’s WR Tre Turner, with Alonso recovering the loose ball. Hooker was credited with his first interception of the season on a Hail Mary pass to end the first half that Taylor pulled down in traffic. Taylor stretched out to pull in his second INT of the game, this one coming at a crucial time (as mentioned above). Then of course, there’s the strip sack touchdown to cap it all off.

You can’t understate how big the turnover differential was in this game.

1951 - That’s right. The last time the Hoos went 4-0 in November was 1951. Sixty-eight years ago. Granted, sometimes the Hoos didn’t have four games in the 11th month of the year — they went 3-0 in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, and 1999 — but it’s an impressive performance nonetheless. Virginia finished last season 1-3 in November, with OT losses at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. They were also 1-3 in 2017, and the Hoos went a brutal 0-4 in November of Bronco Mendenhall’s first season.

1 - The new streak. After 15 years, the new streak starts now. The Commonwealth Cup is going to have so much fun with all the other beautiful trophies in Charlottesville that it won’t ever want to leave.