The Virginia Cavaliers (6-2, 4-2) held off a late rally by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-4, 2-3) to win 48-40 and their fourth straight in Scott Stadium on Saturday night. The Cavaliers kept the momentum going in front of the largest crowd in Scott Stadium this season with a total of 45,837 fans. This win marks UVA’s fourth straight in the ACC, a feat they have not accomplished since 2011. The win also moves the Cavaliers to solo second in the ACC’s Coastal Division, only behind Pittsburgh.
A week after pitching a shutout against Duke, UVA’s defense got off to a very poor start and struggled mightily to stop the Yellow Jackets’ offense. Georgia Tech scored on their opening two drives of the game to quickly jump out to a 13-0 lead midway through the first quarter. However, the Cavaliers were able to turn the deficit around, immediately responding with a 9-play 75-yard touchdown drive. The touchdown drive culminated in a 1-yard screen pass from Junior QB Brennan Armstrong to Senior WR Billy Kemp IV, cutting the Cavalier deficit to 13-7 to end the first quarter. After giving up a field goal on the ensuing GT drive to extend the GT lead to 16-7, the Cavalier offense quickly went back to work, driving 83 yards on 7 plays to respond with a touchdown. Sophomore WR Dontayvion Wicks made an incredible catch for the touchdown on a 13-yard jump ball from Armstrong to the back of the end zone to cut the Cavalier deficit to 16-14.
After giving up points on each of GT’s first three drives, the Cavalier defense finally came up with a big play of their own and a pivotal stop. Senior S Joey Blount picked off GT QB Jeff Sims at the Hoos 5-yard line after the Jackets’ offense was able to drive down the field once again. The interception by Blount was badly needed by the Cavalier defense and halted the Yellow Jackets’ momentum. Following the interception, Dontayvion Wicks continued his extraordinary first half with a 77-yard receiving touchdown and his second touchdown of the night from Armstrong to help the Hoos take their first lead of the game, 21-16. UVA’s defense kept the positive momentum going, forcing GT to an immediate three and out the following series. Following the GT punt, the Hoos used good field position to drive deep into GT territory and extend their lead to 24-16 with a 24-yard field goal from Sophomore K Brendan Farrell. The Cavalier defense then forced another punt from the Yellow Jackets to go into the half with a 24-16 lead.
In the second half, UVA’s offense continued to be a problem for the GT defense, as the Cavaliers drove down the field once again and came away with a 26-yard field goal from Farrell to extend the UVA lead to 27-16. Earlier in the drive, the Hoos converted a crucial 3rd & 16 to keep the drive alive and help the Hoos come away with points. Following the field goal, the GT offense struck quickly with RB Jahmyr Gibbs finding a big hole in the UVA defense for a 71-yard rushing touchdown on the second play of the series to cut the UVA lead to 27-24 following a successful two-point conversion by the Yellow Jackets. In a back and forth game, the Cavalier offense responded again to the GT score by driving down the field, resulting in a 4-yard rushing touchdown from Armstrong to extend the lead to 34-24. After a forced punt by the Hoos on the next GT possession, the Cavalier offense again moved the ball down the field with relative ease, resulting in a 14-yard rushing touchdown from Armstrong, his second rushing touchdown of the game to grow the UVA lead to 41-24 following three-quarters of play.
Following an exchange of punts by both GT and UVA, the Yellow Jackets were able to drive down the field and get back onto the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 41-27. After a great kick that backed up the Cavaliers to their own four-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, UVA marched down the field with their longest scoring drive of the season with big play after big play by Senior FBP Keytaon Thompson. The 96-yard drive ultimately resulted in Armstrong’s sixth touchdown of the night, a 20-yard strike to Senior WR Ra’Shaun Henry in the back of the end zone to extend the UVA lead to 48-27. Following the touchdown by Henry, things got dicey for the Hoos, as the Yellow Jackets quickly moved the ball down the field and scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to 14. They proceeded to then recover the ensuing onside kick and scored another touchdown to cut the deficit to 8 following an unsuccessful two-point conversion. The Yellow Jackets then recovered yet another onside kick, their second in a row to give them one more chance and an opportunity to tie the game with under 30 seconds remaining. Fortunately for the Hoos, GT’s hail mary was ultimately batted down in the end zone to finally end the game and give the Hoos a 48-40 win, as well as giving the fans a huge sigh of relief.
Overall, the game ball has to go to Brennan Armstrong after another massive performance from the conductor of the UVA offense. Armstrong did everything for the Hoos, throwing for 396 yards on 29/43 passing for four touchdowns and running for 99 yards on 12 carries with two rushing touchdowns. His six total touchdowns are the most in his career so far and the most by any UVA player since QB Dan Ellis threw for six touchdowns in 1999 against Buffalo. Dontayvion Wicks also had a massive game for the Hoos, totaling 168 receiving yards on six receptions for two touchdowns. Keytaon Thompson also was heavily featured in the UVA offense, finishing with 65 rushing yards on seven carries and 89 receiving yards on nine receptions. Overall, the Hoos had a very successful rushing attack, finishing the game with a total of 240 rushing yards, their most this season. The Hoos finished the game with 636 total yards of offense, 32 first downs, and an average of 8.7 yards per play. UVA’s 636 total yards of offense are the most total yards in a game under Coach Bronco Mendenhall and the most in a game for UVA since 2010.
UVA’s defense took a big step back after delivering their best performance of the season last week against Duke. Once again, UVA really struggled to stop the run, giving up 270 rushing yards on 34 carries. UVA’s defense was not much better against the pass, as Jeff Sims threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns on 27/44 passing with an interception. UVA also was not really able to get much pressure on Sims, only coming up with one sack for the game. Overall, UVA gave up a total of 570 yards, 27 first downs, and an average of 7.3 yards per play.
UVA will hope to extend its winning streak to five games next Saturday, October 30, when the Cavaliers travel to Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars (6-2). Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall makes his return to BYU for the first time since spending 11 seasons as the head coach for the Cougars from 2005-2015, amassing a total of 99 wins and two Mountain West conference championships.