At this point, it’s safe to assume most Virginia fans have seen Saturday night’s game against the visiting Florida State Seminoles, or at the very least seen the highlights. Even if you have, allow me to paint you a word picture.
The No. 25 ranked Cavaliers trailed the Noles 17-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, but were driving deep into Florida State territory. Virginia needed just two plays and 45 seconds into the final stanza of the game for QB Bryce Perkins to find Joe Reed in the end zone for a 12-yard strike. A converted extra point from Brian Delaney tied the game at 17, but that score only lasted eight plays and 2:33 off the clock as FSU QB James Blackman led the Noles down the field to retake a 7-point lead with 11:42 left in the game.
Virginia responded with a touchdown of their own to make it 24-23 with just over six minutes left on the clock. Then the unthinkable happened: Delaney pushed the extra point wide right, leaving the Hoos down by a point.
Thanks to some inexplicable play calling by Florida State and some absolutely ferocious defense by Virginia, the Seminoles’ ensuing possession lasted just three plays, covered four yards, and burned 1:08 off the clock. That meant the Hoos would have just under five minutes to go 72 yards to try and win the game.
A 22-yard rush from Reed, a 35-yard completion for Hasise Dubois, an FSU penalty for targeting, and two Wayne Taulapapa rushes later the Hoos would retake the lead. But up five points, Bronco Mendenhall decided to go for the two-point conversion to force the Noles into needing a touchdown to tie (instead of straight up win) the game.
Here’s how the game play-by-play listed the drive:
Perkins, B rush attempt good.
Man, does that ever undersell what happened. With the eyes of 57,826 upon him — the biggest home crowd for the Cavaliers since 2015 — Perkins pulled off the most incredible 2-point conversion in football history*.
*don’t fact check this
Check it out:
Folks, this is how you dehydrate a defense.— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 15, 2019
Bryce Perkins’ magic on this 2-point play makes it 31-24 UVA over Florida State pic.twitter.com/0NDM9MBN2u
First, Perkins stands up in the pocket and looks to his right. When nothing materializes and the pocket collapses, Perkins backs out and rolls to his right. As he gets to the right hash, he still sees no openings and two FSU defenders close in in pursuit. While keeping his eyes up, Perkins heads back to his left. After he crosses the left hash, he sees his opening and turns on the jets for the corner. A nifty cut back, Perkins prances into the end zone and puts the Hoos up 31-24 with 2:34 left on the clock.
“I wanted the backside dig [route],” Perkins told Cavs Corner’s Brad Franklin after the game, continuing, “...kind of saw it cloudy, couldn’t see it too much so I kind of tried to space back to the backside. We had two routes on the backside, too, but they kind of got too much over so when I rolled out to the left, I didn’t see anybody.
“I was waiting for somebody to come in my line of vision and then afterward, I saw a lane and just decided to be decisive and run. Got a great down the field block at the end, I don’t know who, I think it was [Ryan] Nelson, but he did a great job of blocking downfield and working with the scramble drill.”
Here’s another angle:
We still can't believe this play by Bryce Perkins pic.twitter.com/dxIYSqnbKm— ACC Network (@accnetwork) September 15, 2019
A couple things to point out:
- HELL YES RYAN NELSON. As soon as the 6’4, 315 pound offensive tackle saw what his QB was going to do, the second year turned on the jets to get out and block. He not only blocked THREE defenders at once, he allowed Perkins to cut back and get in for the score. Perkins was certainly grateful:
- As Mark Packer pointed out on Packer and Durham on the ACC Network on Monday, Perkins wasn’t touched in the whole conversion attempt. That’s impressive.
On its own, the play was huge. When you look at when it happened, the importance cannot be understated. Obviously, when it happened in the game was hugely important as it put the Hoos up seven with under three minutes left. But the moment — including the defensive stop and offensive drive that put the Hoos back in front — stands for something much bigger.
There’s been a lot of pressure on Virginia this season as they’ve had actual preseason expectations for the first time in a long time. A season-opening win at Pitt, a place the Hoos had never won, got things started on the right foot. Beating Florida State — for just the fourth time in 19 tries — is another feather in the cap of a program trying to prove they belong in the national conversation, regardless of the state of the Noles.
Check out the same play with just the stadium noise in it. The crescendo of the crowd in each stage of the conversion is just incredible:
If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will. The Hoos host ODU on Saturday night at 7pm, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2.