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Virginia Slays the Dragon

By Dave Holcomb
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Bryce Perkins etched his name in Cavaliers football history forever with an epic performance during his final regular season game.

It’s the time of year where college football legends are born. In Charlottesville on Friday afternoon, Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins etched his name in Cavaliers football history forever with an epic performance during his final regular season game.

That’s what happens when a signal caller accounts for 475 total yards against their archrival. But it wouldn’t have matter if Perkins posted 675 yards versus Virginia Tech if it came in a losing effort. Somehow, someway, the Cavaliers wanted to finally beat the Hokies.

Thanks to Perkins and a terrific pass rush, which clinched the victory with a sack fumble recovered for a touchdown, Virginia did just that, ending a 15-game losing streak, with a 39-30 victory against Virginia Tech. If that wasn’t enough, the Cavaliers win gives the football program its first ACC Coastal Division title.

Next Saturday, Virginia will face Clemson in its first ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Perkins was terrific Friday, throwing for 311 passing yards and a touchdown. It was the second time against an ACC opponent this season Perkins posted a 300-yard passing day and averaged more than 9.0 yards per pass.

On top of that, Perkins led the Cavaliers in rushing with 164 yards on 19 carries. He also scored two rushing touchdowns.

The Virginia offense posted only 17 yards that weren’t either passing or rushing yards from Perkins.

Virginia jumped out to a 13-3 advantage and led 13-6 at halftime. Virginia Tech seized the momentum in the third quarter, though, with the next two touchdowns, but each time the Hokies took a lead in the second half, Perkins and the Cavaliers responded.

Down 20-13, their first deficit of the game, the Cavaliers answered with a seven-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that took just two minutes and 18 seconds. Trailing 27-20 next, Perkins then led Virginia on a five-play, 75-yard drive that, ironically, also took 2:18.

The seesaw second half continued with Virginia Tech taking another lead with a field goal. On Perkins’ very next play, the senior quarterback found Hasise Dubois for a 67-yard completion to the Virginia Tech eight-yard line.

Virginia couldn’t find the end zone on that drive, settling for a game-tying field goal, but then Perkins finally received some help from the Cavaliers defense.

After giving up points on four of their first five defensive possessions, the Cavaliers held the Hokies to just 10 yards on their final two drives. Sophomore linebacker Noah Taylor intercepted sophomore quarterback Hendon Hooker on third-and-19 to end the first drive.

The next drive was a Virginia sack-fest. The Cavaliers recorded three straight sacks, the third of which ended in a fumble, which senior defensive tackle Eli Hanback recovered for a touchdown.

In between those defensive drives, Perkins led the offense to a field goal. So with the fumble recovery, Virginia jumped ahead by two possessions with under two minutes remaining.

Jumping out to a double-digit lead in the first half, the Virginia faithful surely hoped the Cavaliers would cruise to a victory, but what transpired was even sweeter. Perkins became the first Virginia quarterback to beat their cross-state rivals since Matt Schaub, and Scott Stadium went absolutely insane with the final two takeaways.

That only started the party in Charlottesville, which will surely continue the rest of the weekend, and maybe for the entire year until the Cavaliers and Hokies meet again. For the first time in a decade and a half, bragging rights in this rivalry belongs to Virginia.