Virginia Tech Extends Win Streak Over Virginia to 14 Games With 10-0 Victory

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s win streak over Virginia now stands at 14 games in a row. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — This could have been the year. With Virginia Tech reeling from injuries and a beleaguered offense, the Virginia Cavaliers had a chance to end the Hokies’ 13-game win streak in the in-state rivalry.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The Hokies’ defense turned in a stellar performance for 60 minutes, and the offense mustered just enough points in No. 25 Virginia Tech’s 10-0 win over Virginia inside Scott Stadium.

“I thought it was as good of a team win as I’ve been a part of, and I hope everybody is proud of these kids, because they have battled,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “To pour it out on the field a week ago, and come back less than a week and play as hard, as smart and as tough as they did, speaks a lot about their character.”

With several starters out due to injury, Virginia Tech’s defense played their best football of the season. The Hokies earned a shutout, and held the ‘Hoos to just 191 total yards on offense. Virginia finished the night with just five rushing yards, and didn’t fare much better through the air. Quarterback Kurt Benkert went 17-34 for 186 yards, and was sacked four times by Tech’s defense.

Tech’s defensive performance came with several backups playing critical roles. Khalil Ladler, Deon Newsome, Emmanuel Belmar and Houshun Gaines all came in off the bench to start for Virginia Tech, and contributed to the Hokies’ best defensive performance of the season.

“Number one, really proud of our kids. For the whole group, the whole football team, because we were a little bit of a M.A.S.H. unit coming in here,” said defensive coordinator Bud Foster. “We knew we were going to have some players play some significant roles that hadn’t been in that situation before. I knew they were going to step up though. They were ready. They’ve been working towards that all year.”

The Virginia offense had completed 13 plays of 20-plus yards in their last three games, but completed just three such plays on Friday night. However, Virginia failed to make it inside Virginia Tech’s red zone, and kicker AJ Mejia missed his only field goal attempt, from 41 yards out. Virginia’s inability to run the ball left them in several third down and long situations, and they finished the night just 4-15 on third down.

“We felt like, and Bud can speak to the specifics, but in our conversations, we needed to obviously control the line of scrimmage. We felt like we had an advantage there, or would have an opportunity to do that,” Fuente said. “But to completely make them one dimensional like that is pretty impressive.”

After a 3-0 stalemate in the first half, Virginia Tech’s defense created a play that changed the game. Rover Reggie Floyd came down into the box and popped Virginia’s Chris Sharp on the first drive of the third quarter, forcing a fumble. Gaines, making his first career start, jumped on the ball and gave the Hokies’ offense terrific field position and momentum to start the third quarter.

“I think it really just sparked the offense, gave us momentum,” said tight end Chris Cunningham. “The defense did an incredible job. (Gaines) did a great job recovering the fumble. The defense played lights out.”

Tech converted the turnover into points. Quarterback Josh Jackson, who finished the night 14-21 for 143 yards, a touchdown and an interception, threw a pass to freshman Hezekiah Grimsley for 25 yards, putting the Hokies in the red zone.

“They were one-high,” Jackson said. “We tried to throw a post on that play, but I saw (Grimsley) had a step on the guy, and he made himself look good.”

Three plays later, Jackson struck gold. Virginia Tech ran play-action from the Cavaliers’ 8-yard-line, and Jackson found Cunningham for the score. Brian Johnson, who filled in for an injured Joey Slye, hit the extra point to give the Hokies a 10-0 lead, which felt insurmountable.

Virginia Tech
Chris Cunnigham (85) scored Virginia Tech’s only touchdown of the night, but that was the only one they would need. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

As it would turn out, it was. But, not until Virginia gave the Hokies a scare. In the fourth quarter, facing a second and 21, Virginia’s Benkert found Andre Levrone for 51 yards, putting the ‘Hoos at the Hokies’ 40-yard-line. Benkert moved his team just a little closer, and thought he converted another first down with a pass to Doni Dowling. However, review ruled the ball skipped off the ground before the catch, putting the Hoos’ in a tough spot on third and 10.

After the incompletion on third down, Dowling’s frustrations got the best of him, as Dowling shoved Tech defensive end Trevon Hill. Dowling was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct, pushing the Cavaliers out of field goal range. Dowling’s penalty was one example of an incredibly chippy game that resulted in Virginia linebacker Andrew Brown’s ejection on the next drive, after he threw a punch at Deshawn McClease.

“I don’t believe in it, and I don’t tolerate, obviously, the accountability for it and all it does is hurt the team,” said Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “My job is to continue to evaluate the threshold of our program to where that kind of behavior is gone and all we see is tough, physical play within the whistles, and that’s all we see. Any of the other stuff that happens and any of the residue that’s left over from before, my job is to flush it all out. There’s still some that showed up today.”

From that point on, Virginia had zero chance to win the game. The Hokies got to running the ball again, something they did 53 times for 202 yards on Friday night. Deshawn McClease and Steven Peoples, who played in his first game since Oct. 28, both ran for 71 yards each.

“I was pleased. I thought it set up some other things,” Fuente said of the running game. “We’re still not good enough to line up and just force feed it down anybody’s throat, but I like the way those kids ran. It was nice to have Steven back. You know how we feel about him. When he’s healthy, he gets out there and gets carries, because he does run hard and tough. And Deshawn was a nice little mix-up in there, with some speed and quickness.”

Even with an ugly performance, the Commonwealth Cup is staying in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech’s win streak over Virginia now stands at 14 games, and given how beat up the Hokies were coming into the game, this might be Virginia’s best chance for a couple of years.

“I think the first thing that comes to my mind is that it’s an honor,” Fuente said of the streak. “It’s an honor to get a chance to build on something special and be a part of something bigger than yourself. Whether it’s the streak, or it’s Virginia Tech and this football program. The streak is — I’m not sure I can put it into context. I’ve only been here for a couple of the games. I just, I know it’s nice to get to add to it and continue it.”

— box score —

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  1. I do not think this was an ugly game. it was probably the best game that coach Fu called all year.
    his strategy to control the ball, limit turnover, control field position, etc due the injuries of 6 starters and the new players coming back off injury i.e CJ , alexander, pebbles, etc. ; we had issues on O and D and he needed to balance it out with what he had……… a crippled patched team ………….. also I believe Josh is hurt and tough it out. we got our butts hurt during the Miami game…………. then we had GT ………… short week and then uva on short week
    the game was far from flashy and at times boring but when you look at getting a win . 14 years and counting. by the way how many days is that. Let me pull out my slide rule and count them !! go Hokies ………….great win.

  2. Congrats Hokies!!! Showed a lot of heart and class. Hoos showed their class or lack of it as well. No change there. Those “experts”, down on our offense, might do well to take a look at last year when the offense pulled the defense out of the fire on more than one occasion, the losses in players who left early, and the injuries on the offensive side this year. My read, our coaching staff, both offense and defense was even better than last year considering what was available to work with. Give it a couple more years and it will all come together. Can you imagine a high octane offense coupled with the defense we saw in the last two games!!
    Last thought, the success of the majority of our early recent outs to the NFL has been much less than spectacular. I hope those on the team thinking about leaving, take a long look at that and stick around.

  3. Hey, guys, let’s enjoy #14. This was a spectacular Defensive effort when we needed it most. Give Coach Fu some time, I’m confident he’ll fix the O. Nobody has mentioned the MASH unit (including JJ) the O put on the field last night.

  4. We are so spoiled from beating UVA that hope everyone realizes what a spectacular a Defensive effort that was last night. This wasn’t against one of Celo’s bumbling squads or that awful Offense uva put out there last night. These guys have a very solid O that posted numbers vs Miami, GT and Pitt and BSU. All year they’ve moved the ball and put up points.
    Bud’s D dominated these guys like we haven’t dominated all year. With over a third, second string dudes. Crushed their running game and blanketed receivers the entire game. Best game by our linebackers all year. Can’t gush enough about them.

  5. I thought with coach Fu coming on board that we would have Offense to go with Bua’s Defense? So much for that thought.

    1. If ugly wins are unacceptable, then it’s time to root for a powerhouse like Florida, Tenn, or Texas (those programs cannot buy 9 wins). Actually, Florida fans may be excluded. For anyone who is disgusted by the offensive performance, I encourage you to endow the “your name here” Coordinator of Offense. A $10million dollar check will do nicely to ensure our OC is the highest paid position coach in the country every year. and click donate.

      1. Let’s see…he’s had one year to recruit “his guys”. His first month was holding on to Frank’s commits. Yeah, that’s plenty of time….one of the most ignorant comments I’ve ever seen posted here.

  6. despite being a little uneasy about the game coming in, it was pretty clear early in the game that UVA would have no chance to move the ball. As CC noted in the game preview, QBs who lack any sort of mobility have a lot of trouble against the Tech D.

  7. Houshun Gaines. Haven’t seen the stats (long late drive home), but they seemed to call his name every other play. Player of the game.

  8. After two years of Fuente Tech is still noted for it’s defense – thanks to Bud Foster. He is the man! Hopefully, the offense will show up some day and we can have both on the field at the same time. Like many other Tech fans we are still looking for the offense so Bud won’t have to play defense all the time to win games. 14 in a row and 18 of the last 19 against your in state rival – WOW!!!!!!

  9. Bronco wants to “flush out” the chippiness, except his BYU teams were notorious for it.

    1. Bronc throws “stallion” Andrew Brown and Donnie Dowling –
      not under the bus, but –
      in the toilet and “flush[es] it.”

      grants himself his own get-out-of-jail-free card.
      like he wasn’t even their coach these past two years. convenient and irresponsible.

      and he’s going to keep on “evaluat[ing].
      setting up the excuses for the next two years?
      while he should be coaching.

      meanwhile, we’ll just keep on:
      developing fine young men,
      winning, and
      growing the state’s best university!

      so glad we hire with class: hard smart tough and real.

      Go Hokies!

  10. ‘Ole’ Bud is obviously consistently ‘lights out’ against almost every Hokie opponent with the noticeable EXCEPTION of the Georgia Institute of Technology !!! AMEN !!!

    1. pressure defense with man coverage – corners on an island. They can’t be perfect all game.

    2. That’s been a LONG time concern of mine. BUT, in this instance, with an offense that has had multiple big plays all year, against a rag tag beat up bunch on defense…I’ll TAKE IT!! It was ONE incredible throw and catch between two defenders. I don’t think that qualifies as blowing a

      Oh..btw, that huge play was brought to you courtesy of TWO (not one, but two) tackles of our DL by the hoo Offensive Linemen to allow him to even get the pass off…It looked blatant as hell to us watching; and we ran the play back 2-3 times to watch it again.

      This was one of the absolute BEST performances of a Bud Foster defense I can ever remember. It came at a time it HAD to come, under the adversity of injury and new starters…I bow down to Bud and his Unit!!

      1. You are dead on with that tackling our DL assessment. It was the only time I “lost it” the whole game. I went back twice as well and pointed it out to all that would listen. I cannot figure why ref’s allow OL’s to tackle Tim Settle consistently and never call holding…

    3. Stroman had great coverage on the play, sometimes the needle gets threaded, Greg was all over it.

    4. If the Hokies keep there underclassmen and stay healthy, 2018 will be the year that it happens. Defense will be lights out, dominant top 5 in the country (maybe top 2). Got to recruit Tremaine, Terrell and Adonis to stay and fight for their brothers. 9 wins is good, 10 is better, Go Hokies!

    5. I think it was fixed last night wasn’t it? The one long one they hit, the dude made a play….despite great coverage. Nothing like the long ones GT got away with. Best Defensive game of the year. This wasn’t just beating a horrible USA O into submission. They’re good….put up 28 on the U, beat GT plus other solid Offensive games. A spectacular effort.

    6. You miss the big picture. No one aspect has to be perfect. Our D was magnificent when you consider starting with four non-starters.

  11. You didn’t mention how we also played the field position game. UVA’s starting field position was terrible all game long

    1. That’ll be covered in the game notes later this weekend. But yes, for the most part, Tech owned the field position Battle all night long.

  12. Everyone, please forgive me if there are any errors. I will correct when I’m home. Been a long night.

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