Virginia came into the game last in the ACC in rushing defense allowing 217 yards per game and the Virginia Tech Hokies took full advantage rumbling for 320 yards on their way to a 29-24 win. It was Virginia Tech’s second Commonwealth Cup in a row and 21st in the last 23 years. Brennan Armstrong was once again spectacular, but his final drive fell just a few yards short. It was a disappointing end to the regular season for the Hoos who dropped their fourth in a row with the last two feeling like the Hoos let them slip away.
The game started with the Virginia defense getting a stop on VaTech’s first drive and without hesitation, Armstrong marched the Cavaliers 86 yards down the field on their first drive cashing in with a touchdown pass to Jelani Woods. Despite four penalties on the drive, Virginia moved the ball with ease with Armstrong finding five different receivers and taking a 7-0 lead.
The Hokies wasted no time getting it back though as Braxton Burmeister hit Tayvion Robinson for a 61 yard touchdown pass. It was another big play that has been the ruin of the Virginia defense all season.
But as they’ve done all year, the Cavaliers answered. This time with Armstrong calling his own number for a one yard touchdown run. The drive went for 87 yards and was highlighted by Dontayvion Wicks breaking Herman Moore’s single season receiving yards record.
On the ensuing drive, it looked like the big play would spell doom for the Hoos once again as they let Burmeister get loose for a 71 yard scamper all way down to the Virginia three yard line. But the defense came up huge stuffing the Hokies on three straight runs, then forcing a Connor Blumrick incomplete pass on fourth down. Virginia would get the ball out of their end zone, but the drive would end on an Armstrong interception. Six plays later, VaTech would get their touchdown when running back Raheam Blackshear ran 18 yards for the score and a tie ballgame.
Armstrong got his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon on the next drive as he ran five yards for the score. The drive covered 75 yards and featured two catches by Keytaon Thompson for 38 yards.
For the second time in two weeks Virginia’s special teams committed a costly penalty keeping a drive alive which eventually ended up in points. With the Hokies pinned deep in their own end, the Hoos forced a punt. But a roughing the kicker call would give VaTech the first down and keep the drive alive. The Hokies made them pay kicking a field goal as time expired with Virginia taking a 21-17 lead into the half.
Coming out of the half, the Hoos stayed hot in the passing game, but were unable to get in the end zone. Instead settling for a 34 yard field goal by Justin Duenkel. The Hokies tied the game on the next possession with the touchdown coming on VaTech’s version of the “Philly Special” with Burmeister catching the pass from Robinson.
Not only would Virginia punt on their next drive, but it appeared as if Armstrong rolled his ankle. After forcing a Hokie three-and-out, it was Jay Woolfolk who came out to lead the next Virginia drive. He did exactly what he needed to do taking the Hoos 37 yards before Armstrong was able to return. However, on his first play a trick play looked like a huge pickup for Virginia but Thompson fumbled with the Hokies coming away with the recovery.
The Hokies once again took advantage of the Virginia turnover, driving 63 yards in over 7 minutes and kicking a 38 yard field and taking their first lead of the game 27-24.
Armstrong’s ankle was clearly bothering him. After a three and out, the Hoos defense forced a stop of their own setting up a possible game winning touchdown drive. But on a fourth and three deep in Virginia territory, Armstrong wasn’t able to escape the Hokie rush and ended up fumbling the football. Virginia would recover the fumble in their own endzone resulting in a safety and a 24-29 deficit. The onside kick wasn’t successful, but two plays later Nick Grant forced a fumble giving the Hoos one last chance.
Armstrong would march the Hoos down into the red zone, but his pass intended for Ra’Shaun Henry on 4th and 13 fell incomplete with just 30 seconds to go. A couple kneel downs and Virginia Tech would secure the victory.
Armstrong ended up throwing for 400 yards on the day, his sixth four hundred yard passing game this season and fourth in a row. He chipped in 12 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. Leading Virginia in receptions was Billy Kemp with eight for 102 yards with Thompson also chipping in 91 yards through the air.
Virginia ends the regular season 6-6 and now await their bowl fate with announcements coming over the next week.