Game balls: Virginia Tech 10, Virginia 10

Angelo Anderson
November 25, 2017

U.Va.'s surprisingly successful season won't include a win over its rival, and - no surprise here - the Commonwealth Cup will stay in Blacksburg.

Even Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente knew that this particular matchup didn't look good on paper.

Both Virginia (6-6, 3-5 ACC) and Virginia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC) will be going to a bowl game this season.

The Hokies remain unbeaten against Virginia since joining the ACC in 2004, but Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall was encouraged.

"And I know it's earned", Mendenhall said earlier this week while preparing the Cavaliers for their 99th meeting with Virginia Tech. "But not enough to where we won the game". "I think this is probably one of the special wins of the season, and I'll remember this one forever".

The gap may have closed, but Tech's defense made sure it still exists.

"I was a little anxious about it this week, to be honest with you", Fuente said. "We counted on some guys who haven't played a whole lot of reps, and I didn't think beating the streak into them was the way to go". It was meaningful. I'm certainly not diminishing the meaning behind that.

Benkert, playing in the last home game of his career, passed for 186 yards to break the school's single-season record for passing yards previously held by Matt Schaub.

His Tech counterpart wasn't exactly dazzling but he did win his first start in the commonwealth's biggest grudge match.

It was the redshirt freshman's 19th touchdown pass of the season. "That's kind of what was motivating me. I just, I know it's nice to get to add to it and continue it".

The teams combined for only six first downs in the first quarter, with Tech outgaining Virginia 84-39. 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. 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.

Midway through the fourth quarter in Friday's Virginia vs. Virginia Tech showdown, UVA quarterback Kurt Benkert completed a 51-yard pass to Andre Levrone for his 280th completion of the season.

From that point on, Virginia had zero chance to win the game.

The Cavaliers drove deep into Hokies' territory but couldn't capitalize.

Tech, which ran for 202 yards, took advantage of U.Va.'s only turnover in the third quarter, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Josh Jackson to tight end Chris Cunningham to go up 10-0 with 12:44 left.

UVA will come out of the locker room to take the first possession in the second half.

Josh Jackson turned the fumble recovery on the second play of the second half into a touchdown in four plays.

As the hope of ending their losing streak slipped away in the final moments, the Cavaliers appeared to lose their composure.

Benkert has 3,062 yards through twelve games. I just didn't want our guys pressured up about it because we were going to play some different guys that hadn't played a lot of snaps this week.

With a win in their bowl game, the Hokies can reach 10 victories in back-to-back years for the first time since 2010 and 2011. 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 years.

RUSHING-Va. Tech, McClease 13-71, Peoples 22-71, J.Jackson 8-38, Holston 3-17, Phillips 1-10, McMillian 2-5, Clark 1-4, Grimsley 1-4, (Team) 2-(minus 18).

WILD CARDS: Virginia Tech's Sean Savoy and Virginia's Olamide Zaccheaus have both shown themselves capable of making momentum-shifting offensive plays, both in the passing game and the running game.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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