“Kids just made plays.”
That’s what interim head coach J.C. Price had to say after the Virginia Tech football team’s magical 29–24 win over Virginia on Saturday. Honestly, there’s not a more accurate way to describe the contest. From a 12-yard run on first down for running back Raheem Blackshear to the game-winning pass breakup by safety Tae Daley in the end zone, the team came together to pull out an emotional, powerful win against their in-state rivals.
The story of the first half was great quarterback play for both teams. Cavalier quarterback Brennan Armstrong continued what has been a dominant season, completing 19 of his 25 first half attempts for 236 yards, and a touchdown. He also hurt the Hokies on the ground, rushing five times for 33 yards and finding the end zone twice. Despite his struggles this season, Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister stepped up to the challenge through the first 30 minutes of the contest, going 5 of 10 for 131 yards and a touchdown through the air and rushing eight times for 95 yards, one of those being for 70 yards. The game started with Burmeister and Connor Blumrick splitting reps under center, but the team decided to ride the hot hand in Burmeister after a couple drives.
Simple mistakes hurt both teams in the first two quarters. A bad interception by Armstrong stalled a promising drive for Virginia, and a roughing the kicker penalty turned a 3-and-out into a scoring drive for the Hokies. For Virginia Tech, a great drive stalled out on the goal line, as Blumrick missed an easy touchdown pass to Malachi Thomas on fourth and goal.
The second half was a different story for both teams. It looked as if both offenses would keep rolling, with the Cavaliers driving down the field for a field goal on their opening drive, and the the Hokies following that by going 81 yards in six plays on their opening possession, capped off by a touchdown reception by Burmeister. However, both defenses would step up, and neither team would score a touchdown for the rest of the game after that explosive drive.
Armstrong would get injured on Virginia’s next possession, breaking the rhythm of the Cavalier offense. Upon his return, wide receiver Keytaon Thompson would fumble, killing a promising drive for Virginia. A possession ending in a field goal and a safety forced by defensive tackle Jordan Williams would give the Hokies a 29–24 lead and the ball with three minutes left in the contest, and it looked as though Virginia Tech had the game in hand for the second year in a row, but Blumrick would return to the game and fumble to give the ball back to the Cavaliers.
It was happening again, the cursed season just wouldn’t end. It was inevitable the Hokies were going to lose a heartbreaker. Third and 10, Armstrong completes a 25 yard pass. First and 10, 18 yards. Virginia is on the Hokies’ 11 with 1:22 left in the contest. Fast forward, it’s fourth and 13. One play. Armstrong drops back, he passes up the seam ... incomplete. Daley breaks it up ... it’s incomplete.
For the 21st time in 23 years, Virginia Tech had won the Commonwealth Cup. The kids ... just ... made ... plays. Despite one of the most tumultuous seasons in recent memory, the Hokies had beat UVA — they had defeated their demons, they were ... they are ... going bowling. Virginia Tech might not know who its head coach is next season; the future is uncertain. But the present is bright, because on Saturday night, the Hokies #BeatUVA.