Football falls in overtime to Georgia Tech, 30-27

Cavaliers come up short on the road against Yellow Jackets

sp-jordanmack-courtesyvirginiaathletics

Junior linebacker Jordan Mack came back in the lineup against Georgia Tech after his injury, recording a team-high 12 tackles.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

In a game in which regular time wasn’t enough to decide the outcome, Virginia was edged out by Georgia Tech, 30-27.

“I love my team; they battled like crazy,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “[They] played very strong and played tough, played right to the end.”

The clash between the two ACC schools remained close throughout the game, with the largest lead of the day only being six points. 

The Yellow Jackets (7-4, 5-3 ACC) jumped on the scoreboard first, after getting a 28-yard field goal. The Cavaliers (7-4, 4-3 ACC) had the answer, though, as junior quarterback Bryce Perkins connected with junior wide receiver Hasise Dubois for a 13-yard touchdown a few minutes later. 

However, the next series of plays proved unfavorable for Virginia. First, Georgia Tech sacked Bryce Perkins in Virginia’s end zone to get a two-point safety. Additionally, on that play, Perkins went down with an injury and walked off the field with the assistance of training staff. The Yellow Jackets then returned a Virginia kickoff for a 77-yard touchdown run and successfully ran a two-point conversion to take a 13-7 lead over the Cavaliers. 

“Ultimately, the storyline was the special teams miscues,” Mendenhall said. “The kick return for a touchdown, and the punt that bounced up and hit one of our players, that turnover. Those two plays, I thought, contributed to us not being quite able to pull off this game. Certainly, the safety … those three plays, in terms of clean play and execution, were the difference in the game.”

With under a minute to play in the first quarter, and Perkins on the sideline, freshman quarterback Brennan Armstrong reclaimed the lead for Virginia when he found junior wide receiver Joe Reed open for a 56-yard touchdown pass. 

“I mean, it seems like each time he goes in, there’s something electric that happens,” Mendenhall said of Armstrong. “He’s a really good player … He has a presence where he thinks he can move the ball against anyone, no matter the circumstance, and he’s probably right.”

In the second quarter, not only did Perkins re-enter the game, but he rushed for a nine-yard touchdown after a Georgia Tech field goal to put the Cavaliers back ahead and go into the locker room with a 21-16 lead at the half.

Neither team was able to break their opponent’s defense in the third quarter. But, in the final fifteen minutes of regular time, the scoreboard saw some changes. The Yellow Jackets picked up a 3-yard rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion to jump to a 24-21 lead. Then sophomore kicker Brian Delaney evened things out with under five to go, as he sent a 30-yard field goal through the posts. Each team then added another three to their scores, with Georgia Tech recording a deep 48-yard field goal and Delaney scoring a 32-yard field goal with one second to play. The 27-27 score sent the game into overtime. 

The Yellow Jackets’ kicker continued to be a difference maker in overtime, sending a 40-yard field goal through the uprights, which would prove to win the game for the home team after Delaney came up short on a 35-yard field goal to tie.

As a team, Virginia had 130 rushing yards and 273 passing yards. Perkins was 21-for-26 on pass attempts, for 217 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 73 yards. Senior halfback Olamide Zaccheaus had 96 receiving yards on 10 receptions and Reed had 78 receiving yards on two receptions. 

Defensively, the Cavaliers held the Yellow Jackets to just 37 passing yards while giving up 268 rushing yards. Leading up to the game, Virginia spent the week preparing for Georgia Tech’s option football and junior inside linebacker Jordan Mack, sophomore inside linebacker Robert Snyder and senior safety Juan Thornhill showed that the defense had prepared well. Mack had a team high 12 tackles, Snyder had 11 tackles and Thornhill had nine. Junior cornerback Bryce Hall was also effective on defense, breaking up two passes and getting six tackles. 

“I thought, defensively, we played very well, holding [Georgia] Tech to field goals for the most part,” Mendenhall. 

In addition to solid defense, Mendenhall thought the way his team battled was a positive takeaway from the game. 

“That series where there’s a safety, a quarterback injury and a kick return for a touchdown … that would have broken the will of many teams, and it didn’t seem to faze our guys,” Mendenhall said. “Nor did the whole scenario, going all the way to overtime. Yeah, we didn’t kick the ball through the uprights at the end … that’s what everyone will see, but the team played really well. We just didn’t quite play clean enough to win.”

The Cavaliers will now prepare to face in-state rival Virginia Tech, for the annual day-after-Thanksgiving game on Friday, Nov. 23 at 3:30 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va.

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