In a shootout, the now bowl-eligible Virginia Cavaliers did enough to pull out their fourth straight win and advance to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference. Brennan Armstrong put on another Heisman Trophy worthy performance and the Wahoo defense did just enough to seal the deal.
On the Yellow Jackets’ first drive, a Noah Taylor pass breakup and a stuffed two-yard run, Georgia Tech drove from its own 27-yard line to the Virginia end-zone in three plays as quarterback Jeff Simms found a wide open Kyric McGowan wide open for the first score of the game.
Brennan Armstrong and the ‘Hoos failed to muster much of anything in response as the Yellow Jackets forced a three-and-out and didn’t give Virginia anything easy.
Georgia Tech stayed hot on the ensuing drive and marched down to the Wahoo 16-yard line in ten plays before Joey Blount came up with what would’ve been a huge interception in the end-zone. But, a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Noah Taylor wiped off the pick and put the Yellow Jackets in position to punch the ball in for another touchdown two plays later. A blocked extra point attempt left the score at 13-0 with 5:05 left in the quarter.
Fortunately for the Wahoos, the offense woke up after that as Armstrong started to get comfortable both as a runner and as a passer. After a Keytaon Thompson reception to the one-yard line nearly got the ‘Hoos on the board for the first time, Armstrong hit Billy Kemp IV who used a pair of blocks to make the score 13-7.
Georgia Tech continued to torch Virginia on the following drive as the Yellow Jackets kept on bullying the Cavaliers in the run game. But, the defense didn’t break in the red-zone and forced a 26-yard field goal from Brent Cimaglia.
The ‘Hoos stormed back on the field after that and — with momentum from the defense’s red-zone stop — put together a quick scoring drive. A 45-yard run from Brennan Armstrong that almost went the distance really got things going, before the Virginia quarterback found Dontayvion Wicks in the back corner of the end-zone for a ridiculous jump-ball catch that brought the ‘Hoos within two, 16-14.
The Virginia defense came up big again as Joey Blount picked Simms off and set Armstrong and company up to take the lead.
Take the lead they would as Dontayvion Wicks turned a quick comeback route into a 77-yard score as he made his man miss and put on the burners to avoid the Yellow Jackets in pursuit and put Virginia up 21-16.
The ‘Hoos kept up the pressure defensively and forced Tech’s first punt of the game which would only go 27 yards and put the Wahoo offense in great field position.
UVA would capitalize on that as a 28-yard completion to Wicks put Virginia at the Georgia Tech 10-yard line and culminated in a 24-yarder from Brendan Farrell to put the ‘Hoos up eight points, 24-16.
That would be the final score of the half as the Yellow Jackets punted again before poor clock management from the Virginia coaching staff meant a hail mary out the back of the end zone closed out the second quarter.
With the ‘Hoos receiving the second half kick, UVA had a chance to start pulling away in earnest. Four passes to Thompson and another to Jelani Woods helped progress the offense down inside the Georgia Tech 10-yard line. But, the team’s struggles to convert in the red-zone popped up again and Farrell came back on the field to tack on three points.
In a quick and dramatic response, Jahmyr Gibbs broke through the Virginia front seven for a 71-yard touchdown, essentially nullifying any momentum that UVA had carried over from the first half. A two-point conversion made the score 27-24 and squarely brought the Yellow Jackets back into the game.
Armstrong would take the reins back on the ensuing drive as he utilized both his legs and his arm to carry the ‘Hoos down the field to the Tech four-yard line. He then rescued a broken play designed for Keytaon Thompson and scampered into the end-zone for his first rushing touchdown. That made the score 34-24 as the shootout continued late into the third quarter.
After Jeff Simms found Malachi Carter for a quick first down, the Wahoo defense contained a Kyric McGowan run to five yards before causing two straight incompletions and bringing up fourth down. A 35-yard punt from David Shanahan gave the ball back to Virginia’s offense at the UVA 23-yard line.
Armstrong continued to do it all as continued to hit his receivers with ease and efficiently drove the ball back into Tech’s red-zone. He then once again relied on his legs to do the rest of the work as he barreled through the Yellow Jackets defense to tally his fifth total touchdown of the night. That run made the score 41-24 and truly started to put the game out of reach.
Georgia Tech had another unproductive drive and Shanahan came back in for punting duties. Yet, a false start from the Virginia offensive line stunted the Cavaliers’ next drive meant that the Yellow Jackets got the ball back shortly thereafter.
A 38-yard run from Simms on fourth-and-short put Georgia Tech back in scoring position. But, the Jackets couldn’t gain any real yardage in the red-zone and settled for a field goal to make it a two-touchdown game.
A fake onsides kick from Tech forced a Virginia timeout and then put the ‘Hoos down at their own four-yard line to start the drive. That wouldn’t slow them down though as Devin Darrington and Keytaon Thompson chunked together long run after long run before Armstrong threw yet another perfect ball to Ra’Shaun Henry in the corner of the end-zone to put the game out of reach with the score at 48-27.
The Yellow Jackets would score again as Simms hit a streaking Kalani Norris down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown to push the score to 48-34.
A fluky onsides kick gave the ball back to Georgia Tech near midfield, an unfortunate pass interference penalty from Anthony Johnson, and a 15-yard completion to McGowan gave the Jackets a little bit of life which they capitalized on to tack on another touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the game. A failed two-point conversion meant the score sat at 48-40 as Wahoo fans sat biting their nails before another Georgia Tech onsides kick.
Yet another mistake from the Wahoo kick return team resulted in yet another recovered onsides kick by the Yellow Jackets which meant that the game was agonizingly extended. A pair of Simms completions put the ball at the Virginia 31-yard line with five seconds remaining and the deficit at eight points.
Yet, mercifully, Joey Blount batted the Hail Mary out of the air and ended the game to win the game for the ‘Hoos and put an end to Georgia Tech’s near miraculous comeback.
It wasn’t pretty, but Virginia did what was necessary to win a fourth straight game and propel the program to another bowl-eligible season. Now, things get tough as UVA opens its ridiculously difficult final stretch of games by playing BYU on the road next Saturday.