Following 11 days of rest, Virginia began the second half of the season by traveling to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-1 ACC), hoping to end a three-game losing streak.
While not smooth-sailing, the Hoos managed to edge out a 16-9 victory in a defensive battle, ending the Yellow Jacket’s two-game win streak. It was clear from the start that offensive production would be hard to come by, with Georgia Tech beginning the game with a three-and-out; Virginia’s opening drive went even worse, with running back Perris Jones fumbling the ball on the Tech 39-yard line, having initially rushed for 11 yards and a first down. Star quarterback Jeff Sims used the turnover to get GT within striking distance, ending up with 3rd & goal at the UVA 8-yard line. However, cornerback Fentrell Cypress II tipped a pass from Sims that was intercepted in the endzone by 4th-year corner Coen King. The Cavalier’s defensive efforts weren’t to be rewarded as quarterback Brennan Armstrong would throw a pick-six on the ensuing drive, giving the Yellow Jackets a 6-0 lead (GT kicker Gavin Stewart would miss the extra point). Sims would later get injured midway through the second quarter, with sophomore backup Zach Gibson filling in for the remainder of the game.
Virginia delivered a statement after giving up the interception by driving 75 yards down the field to set up a go-ahead 1-yard TD rush from Armstrong, giving UVA a one-point lead. The defense would again hold their ground, forcing another punt out of GT punter David Shanahan’s ten on the day. Despite four turnovers by the offense, the UVA defense managed to hold Georgia Tech to only 146 passing yards and a measly 60 rushing yards throughout the game.
Late in the 2nd quarter Armstrong lead a record-breaking touchdown drive with his 44-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks. This put Armstrong at 57 career touchdown passes, breaking the UVA school record of 56 previously held by Matt Schaub. The ensuing PAT from Will Bettridge was no good, with the 1st-year kicker later missing a field goal from 39 yards. This allowed Georgia Tech to respond with a chip-shot 25-yard field goal from Gavin Stewart, making the score 13-9 at halftime.
The few glimmers of offensive hope began to fade as Virginia started with the ball to begin the 3rd quarter. Despite a few notable passes and runs from Armstrong, the offense still faced the same struggles we’ve seen all season. On special teams, Bettridge managed to get the Hoos a 16-9 lead with a 28-yard field goal. However, he missed another, this time from 29 yards, and Daniel Sparks had a punt blocked midway through the 4th quarter. Despite this, our defense kept the game out of reach for Georgia Tech, limiting stand-in quarterback Zach Gibson to a 40% completion percentage, and multiple stops late in the game were enough to seal the victory for Virginia, their first in ACC play.
As the saying goes, “a win is a win.” Although Georgia Tech was without their star quarterback, and the offense continues to stagnate, UVA finally did enough to come out on top. Any momentum that can be taken from this win will be crucial, as the Cavs face a tough five games to finish out the season.
Virginia welcomes the Miami Hurricanes (3-3, 1-1 ACC) to Scott Stadium next Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 on October 29th, at 12:30 pm
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