Virginia loses season-ending heartbreaker to Tech
Journell's game-winning field goal sends Hokies to bowl, ends Cavs' season at 4-8
Cody Journell kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired to clinch a 17-14 Virginia Tech win against Virginia and the squad’s ninth straight Commonwealth Cup.
Controversial time-management from Coach Mike London in the buildup to Journell’s game-winner overshadowed a mostly stout defensive performance for the Cavaliers (4-8, 2-6), who finish with four wins or fewer for the third time in the last four seasons. With the Hokies (6-6, 4-4 ACC) facing third and seven at the Virginia 10 with slightly more than a minute remaining following a costly interception by Cavalier junior quarterback Michael Rocco, London elected against using either of his team’s two remaining timeouts. As a result, Virginia Tech was able to run the clock down to 0:04 for Journell’s attempt—at which point London called both timeouts in an apparent effort to “ice” the kicker.
Quarterback Logan Thomas powered the Hokies with 89 rushing yards, including 58 in the second half, in an ugly contest that featured a whopping 18 punts. Junior wide receiver Tim Smith caught four passes for 79 yards and a touchdown for Virginia, the only superlative on a day on which the squad managed only three second-half first downs after an equally inept first half.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Virginia Tech finally found some traction offensively on the first possession of the second. Thomas gouged the Virginia defense with his arm and his legs, capping a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown hurl to Randall Dunn.
Smith helped the Cavaliers respond later in the quarter. After Rocco found him on a short out-route from the slot position, Smith shed a tackler and followed his blockers down the left sideline for a 42-yard score to knot the score at 7 with 3:30 remaining in the first half. It was the veteran wideout’s fourth touchdown grab of the season.
The second half began auspiciously for Virginia. After junior defensive end Jake Snyder dislodged the ball from Thomas, senior defensive tackle Brent Urban scooped up the loose ball and scampered to the endzone for the Cavaliers’ first defensive touchdown since November 2011.
After a Hokie three-and-out, Rocco led the Cavaliers 41 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal attempt for junior placekicker Drew Jarrett. London, opted for a fake, however, and senior holder Jacob Hodges fell short of the marker on fourth-and-8.
On the ensuing drive, Thomas bulldozed his way through the heart of the Virginia defense to lead a 15-play, 85-yard march to the endzone bookended by the quarterback’s four-yard touchdown rush to knot it up at 14.
From that point on, Virginia’s offense sputtered while Thomas continued to wear down the Cavaliers’ defensive front. The Hokies appeared destined to vault to the lead with 3:38 remaining as the sure-footed Journell lined up for a 42-yard kick, but a strong Lane Stadium wind helped push his effort wide left.
The next Virginia drive culminated in Rocco’s wobbly underthrow for Smith, which resulted in Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum’s interception to set up the deciding score. Rocco finished 14-of-29 for 177 yards and accepted all but three second-half snaps after sophomore Phillip Sims left the game early in the third quarter with an apparent hand injury.
Virginia finished with just 217 yards, five in the fourth quarter, and lost the time of possession battle by 15 minutes.
The win ensures the Hokies will qualify for their 20th consecutive bowl appearance under coach Frank Beamer.