What was your most memorable moment in the Battle for the Commonwealth Cup?
Well, as you know, this one has been pretty one-sided as the Virginia Tech Hokies have won 21 of the previous 22 meetings, including that 15-year run from 2004-18.
Now, we head into the 2021 edition with the Virginia Cavaliers, an expected favorite behind a fantastic quarterback in Brennan Armstrong.
So, back to our original question — what is my most memorable moment from this rivalry? I picked a game that wasn’t involved in the previous 22 meetings discussed above. No, I want to go back to 1995, just before Virginia Tech’s dominance over the Cavaliers became a yearly occurrence.
That Hokie team would finish the season 10-2 and win the Sugar Bowl by blowing out Texas. It’s the team that put Virginia Tech on the national radar. That Virginia Tech team was led by quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, defensive end Cornell Brown, defensive tackle J.C. Price and defensive back Torrian Gray, among others.
The No. 13 Cavaliers had a commanding 29-14 lead when the fourth quarter began. Then, Druckenmiller and the then-No. 20 Hokies went to work. Druckenmiller led an impressive drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Holmes. The Hokies went for the 2-point conversion, but it failed, trimming UVa’s lead to 29-20 with under 13 minutes left to play.
Virginia Tech’s defense quickly got the ball back, and the Hokies settled for a 35-yard field goal by Atle Larsen to trim the lead to 29-23, with 6 minutes and 58 seconds remaining. The comeback was happening.
This time, a costly penalty set up Virginia in Virginia Tech territory, but the Hokies had all three timeouts remaining. The defense stood tall, forcing a field-goal attempt by UVa kicker Rafael Garcia. If Garcia makes the kick, this one is over. He missed. Druckenmiller would get one more chance with no timeouts and 2:12 remaining in the game.
It didn’t begin well for the Hokies. After three incompletions, Druckenmiller faced a fourth-and-10, but the QB was unfazed, finding Cornelius White for 14 yards and a first down. The Hokies were back in business.
Then, it happened. Druckenmiller found Holmes again for a 32-yard pass, and Holmes was into the end zone for the score. Tech had the lead with 47 seconds remaining.
You know what happens next. It’s probably the most famous image in this rivalry.
Virginia Tech cornerback Antonio Banks picked off Mike Groh and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown as time expired. During Banks’ return, UVa trainer, Joe Gieck, stuck his leg out to trip Banks, but it didn’t matter. Banks scored, and Virginia Tech’s magical season continued.
So many Hokies impacted that game: Druckenmiller, Holmes, the entire offensive line, Bryan Still, Brown, Price, George DelRicco, Gray, Banks, etc. Now, Price is the interim coach for the Hokies in the 2021 season finale against Virginia.
Check out Brown and Price below:
There are so many big moments in this rivalry. For me, this one stands out the most.