The streak is over. It’s finally over.
Bryce Perkins made plays with his arms and his legs. Noah Taylor played like a senior in a sophomore’s body. The Cavaliers hung tough. For the first time in over a decade, UVa made clutch plays down the stretch to win the Commonwealth Cup.
For the first time since 2003, Virginia outlasted Virginia Tech and won, 39-30.
The win also gives the Cavaliers their first ACC Coastal Division title. It’s a historic victory that came in dramatic fashion.
After jumping out to an early lead, Virginia struggled offensively and allowed Virginia Tech to take numerous second-half leads. The Cavaliers kept fighting, however, and they eventually made enough plays to win the biggest game of Bronco Mendenhall’s Virginia tenure.
The game started as perfectly as Virginia could’ve hoped. Perkins converted a pair of third-and-longs with his legs, and he punctuated the team’s eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the opening series with a 39-yard scamper for a score. Brian Delaney missed the extra point, but it was tough to tell as the Virginia fans in Scott Stadium were overjoyed with the start.
A quick stop gave Virginia another boost of momentum to open the game, but the Hokies made a surge of their own seven minutes into the first half. Perkins was hit by a pair of Virginia Tech players as he threw, and the ball floated aimlessly into the air. Chamarri Conner intercepted the pass, and Virginia Tech turned the turnover into three points, cutting the Virginia’s lead to 6-3 with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter.
A strong tackle by cornerback Nick Grant on third-and-goal helped keep the Hokies out of the end zone. Virginia played solid red-zone defense in the first half, limiting the Hokies to a pair of field goals on two red-zone trips.
On its next drive, Virginia once again turned to Perkins. The redshirt senior quarterback sprinted up the middle as Virginia Tech blitzed on the outside, and he outran everyone on his 67-yard touchdown carry. Through three drives, Perkins had five carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Both teams sputtered throughout the rest of the first half with Virginia Tech adding a field goal before the end of the half. UVa’s Joey Blount nearly intercepted a pass in the back of the end zone to prevent Brian Johnson’s second field goal, but it was ruled incomplete and the call stood after review.
Hendon Hooker threw the first interception of his career later in the half on a Hail Mary with the final seconds of the first half ticking off the clock.
After a sluggish start to the first half, Virginia Tech rallied in the opening moments of the second half. Hooker hit Damon Hazelton for 30 yards on the first play of the half. Four plays later, Hooker took a zone read 34 yards for a touchdown, making multiple Cavaliers miss in the process.
The Hokies kept at it. Scoring two drives later on a one-yard touchdown run from Deshawn McClease that ended an eight-play, 71-yard scoring drive. The touchdown gave the Hokies a 20-13 lead.
UVa’s offense suddenly came to life following the Virginia Tech touchdown. Perkins found Joe Reed for a 42-yard reception before hitting Billy Kemp IV on a 25-yard strike for Kemp’s first career touchdown.
Hooker and company wasted no time responding. Hooker threw a deep ball to Tre Turner, who caught the post pattern and raced into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown to give Virginia Tech a 27-20 lead.
Perkins and the Cavaliers answered back on the next drive. Two chunk passing plays set up a two-yard touchdown rush from Wayne Taulapapa that tied the game at 27 with 13:30 remaining.
The two teams then traded field goals to tie the game at 30 with just under eight minutes remaining on the clock.
Virginia Tech drove down the field before Taylor jumped into a passing lane and recorded his second interception of the day. Taylor’s interception thrilled the Scott Stadium crowd. The play gave Virginia the ball at its own 35 with just under five minutes remaining.
Virginia took advantage.
The Cavaliers drove down the field before their final drive started to fizzle out just inside the Hokies’ side of the field. Virginia used a third-down completion to set up a slightly more manageable field goal for Delaney. The kicker still needed to hit a 48-yarder after missing an extra point earlier in the game.
Delaney stepped up and delivered.
His kick sailed through the uprights, and Virginia led 33-30.
The UVa defense went sack crazy on the following drive, putting Hooker in the dirt on three consecutive plays. The final play resulted in a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the end zone to put Virginia ahead 39-30.
The wait is over. Virginia holds the Commonwealth Cup.