The (2-6) Virginia Cavaliers faced the (4-4) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Scott Stadium. After a tough start to the season, the Hoos seemed to have some momentum after upsetting undefeated UNC, marking their first upset of a top-ten team on the road, and nearly beating a strong Miami team, just falling short in overtime. Despite a worse record, the Cavaliers were favored to win against the Yellow Jackets.
The Cavaliers had a poor start to the contest. Following a few quick first-downs to start the game, Quarterback Tony Muskett opted to take a deep shot to Malachi Fields. Yet, after what appeared to be an impressive catch, the Georgia Tech defensive back Myles Sims wrestled the ball away for an interception. Muskett also suffered a big hit on the play and did not return to the play.
The Hoos forced a three-and-out and marched down the field with big runs from star running back Mike Hollins. The true first-year signal caller, Anthony Colandrea, came into the game to replace Muskett and hit Joshua Rawlings on a nine-yard strike to give the Cavs an early 7-0 lead. Even with Muskett on the sideline, Virginia appeared to be in the game at the end of the first quarter, leading 7-3.
In the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets started to dominate the ground game and shut the Hoos down offensively. Virginia struggled to contain the trio of the elusive running backs Jamal Haynes and Dontae Smith, and the mobile quarterback Haynes King. Receiving the ball to start the second half, Georgia Tech moved down the field with steady runs from both Haynes and King. QB Haynes King put the Yellow Jackets up 10-7 on a goal-line QB draw.
Virginia went three and out three times consecutively including a costly fumble from Colandrea on a 3rd & 1. The Yellow Jackets scored after two long touchdown runs from King and Smith. The game looked out of reach as Georgia Tech was up 24-7 with 28 seconds left in the half. However, a Georgia Tech penalty and 25-yard strike to the superstar wideout Malik Washington put the Cavaliers in field goal range. Will Bettridge knocked down a 39-yard field goal as time expired to put the Hoos within two scores at the half.
When the Yellow Jackets received the ball at the start of the third quarter, they wasted no time to uncork another massive play. Haynes King found the receiver Eric Singleton Jr. on a 58-yard pass to put Georgia Tech up 31-14. Despite two crucial stops from the Virginia defense, the offense failed to capitalize with more three-and-outs and a turnover on downs. By the time the Hoos were in scoring distance, they were down 38-10 in the fourth quarter.
Colandrea hit receivers Fields and Washington to set up a touchdown pass to RB Kobe Pace. After another Yellow Jackets touchdown, Virginia was down 45-17. Trying to find some sort of hope at the end of a rocky game, Colandrea aired the ball out, picking up quality gains, but eventually threw an interception. Georgia Tech opted to burn the clock running the ball to pick up their fifth win on the year, putting them one win away from their first bowl game since 2018.
Hopefully, Muskett can recover from his ankle injury he suffered at the start of the game. With the Monmouth transfer at the helm of the offense, the Virginia offense has looked much more steady and explosive. Colandrea made many quality plays but showed his inexperience as he only completed 56 percent of his passes and threw an interception. Nevertheless, Malik Washington continued to impress, eclipsing 1000 receiving yards on the year and moved third in the country and first in the ACC receiving yards.
Also, much of the Hoos’ success in recent weeks was due to their strong running game led by Mike Hollins, who also suffered an injury in the contest. The Virginia offense managed only 119 yards on the ground.
Similar to many games this year, the Hoos struggled in the trenches. Georgia Tech ran for over 300 yards, amassed five touchdowns, and averaged nearly seven yards per carry. The Hoos only mustered one sack and failed to force a turnover.
On Thursday at 7:30, Virginia faces 11th ranked Louisville (8-1) on the road. Hopefully, Muskett and Hollins will be available against the Louisville team coming off dominating wins against Virginia Tech and Duke. Viewers can watch the game on ESPN or Fubo.