Editor’s note: Josh didn’t get a chance to add his prediction to the preview. Young Mr. Warner gets the prize, though. He predicted a 35-31 Hokies result.
Wow, just wow. The 100th meeting between UVA and Virginia Tech did not disappoint. After slow starts by both offenses and surprisingly stout first halves from both defenses, this game got absolutely crazy.
With about four minutes left in the game Saturday night, Lane Stadium fell silent. Inside his own 25 yard line, Ryan Willis threw what seemed to be a game-ending interception. Floods of people started leaving and those that stayed were deflated. Down by four points to hated rival UVA with a defense that had only one second-half stop to this point, it honestly seemed the game was in the bag. Somehow, someway, the banged-up Hokie defense got a stop, held UVA to a field goal, and gave their offense an opportunity. And they delivered...
Following his interception, Willis had all of the pressure on him. On the third play of the drive (3rd and 10), Ryan Willis threw up a prayer, and Dalton Keene answered it. Keene ripped the ball away from the UVA defensive back and gave the Hokies 45 yards and a second life. Two plays later, Virginia Tech fumbled their way into the end zone and would send the game into overtime.
Once in overtime, the Hokies went 3-and-out before kicking a field goal shifting all of the pressure onto their defense. After a rough second half, the defense finally made a play. After a mishandle by UVA on a handoff, Emmanual Belmar jumped on the loose ball for the Hokies, ended the game, and sent Lane Stadium into a frenzy.
Aside from the last five minutes and overtime, the Hokies were hit-or-miss yet again. The offense scored once in the first half along with a blocked punt for a TD, but the defense allowed zero points and looked sound. However, as we’ve seen all season, we could not keep momentum. After one half of a disciplined, run-stopping defense, UVA made the Hokies defense look silly. The Hokies front seven could not stop the run and their defensive backs got burned for big play after big play (three of which were touchdowns). It wasn’t until the last five minutes of the game before our defense managed a stop.
The offense wasn’t really any better. Willis orchestrated a couple of drives in the second half with a touchdown and a field goal, but the passing game was arguably the worst it’s been all year. Willis was 14 of 33 with on 199 yards with 2 interceptions and was hurried out of the pocket seemingly every play. Despite the bad passing attack, the run game showed signs of life with over 250 yards and a couple of scores. Even though those numbers don’t stand out on the stat sheet, it’s an improvement for the O-Line.
To say the least, this game was sloppy. The numbers aren’t great because Tech didn’t play great, but they finally had players step up and make plays. Virginia Tech is one win away from salvaging a bowl game and this season, but they still need a lot of work. With their backs against the wall, Virginia Tech made plays on offense, defense, and special teams to get the job done, and keep the Commonwealth Cup.