Cody Journell connected on the game-winning field goal as time expired, giving Virginia Tech a 17-14 win over in-state rival UVA on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies finished the season 6-6, with a 4-4 mark in the ACC, and they are now bowl eligible. UVA dropped to 4-8 overall, and 2-6 in league play.
UVA fans are left puzzled by a pair of decision by Mike London in the second half of the game. Leading 14-7 in the second half, the Hoos had a chance to kick a field goal that would have put them up two scores against a struggling Tech offense. London decided to fake the field goal, but the inside running play was stopped short of the first down. The Hokies responded by going on a 15-play, 85 yard touchdown drive. After the fake field goal, Tech outgained UVA 182-13.
With just under a minute left in the game, and with the Hokies positioning the ball for the last-second field goal, London had two timeouts remaining. Instead of using the timeouts on third and fourth down, he elected to let the time go off the clock and use the timeouts to ice Cody Journell, rather than stopping the clock. The plan failed, as Journell’s 29 yard field goal was good as time expired.
Virginia Tech outgained UVA 303 to 217, ran 95 plays to UVA’s 56, and held the ball for 37:30. UVA had the ball for under nine minutes in the entire second half. Logan Thomas had 29 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown, while Martin Scales started and had 37 yards on 10 carries. J.C. Coleman had 13 carries for 36 yards. Tech’s offense was very bad in the second half, but they got it going late.
Thomas was 18-of-38 for 129 yards and a touchdown pass to Randall Dunn. He started off poorly, and was very inaccurate, though he settled down late and was difficult for UVA to stop late in the game. Thomas also coughed up a fumble on a sack, which was returned by the Hoos for a touchdown.
Demitri Knowles and Marcus Davis both had four catches for 33 yards, and except for a 42 yard catch and run for a touchdown by UVA’s Tim Smith, neither passing offense could get much accomplished on a cold, windy day in Lane Stadium.
The Tech defense had a terrific performance, holding UVA to just 30 yards rushing. They sacked Michael Rocco twice, while Antone Exum pulled in a critical interception late in the game to set up Cody Journell’s game-winning field goal.
Detrick Bonner had a very good game at free safety. He led the team with 10 tackles, and with the exception of Smith’s catch and run for a touchdown, Bonner made a number of very good open field tackles on Saturday. He also broke up two passes, and he is likely the defense’s most improved player from the middle of the season until now.
Antone Exum locked down the UVA wide receivers all afternoon. He finished with five tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. Tech’s secondary has improved substantially thanks to the progress of Bonner and Exum.
Senior linebacker Bruce Taylor, playing his last game in Lane Stadium, pitched in with a sack. Derrick Hopkins and J.R. Collins also split a sack of Michael Rocco.
Virginia Tech has now won nine consecutive games against UVA, the longest winning streak in the history of the rivalry. The Commonwealth Cup will reside in Blacksburg, VA for at least another year. The Hokies have also won 13 out of the last 14 against the Hoos, and are 16-4 against their in-state rivals since the beginning of the Beamer Bowl Era in 1993.
We don’t know exactly where the Hokies will be bowling yet, but we do know that Virginia Tech will be playing in the postseason.