6 moments that made a win over Virginia Tech special for UVA

6 moments that made a win over Virginia Tech special for UVA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia's win over Virginia Tech was a massive weight off the shoulders of the Cavaliers as it was the first time since 2003 that Virginia had beaten its in-state rival. That alone would be reason enough to celebrate. The way in which UVA won on Saturday, however, made it an instant classic that will long be remembered by the Cavalier-faithful in Charlottesville.

Here are the moments that made Saturday's victory so special for Virginia.

Perkins' fumble

The reason why the streak was 15 years long instead of 14 was because of Bryce Perkins' fumble in overtime in 2018. Virginia had a chance to win the game in overtime after Virginia Tech settled for the field goal, but Perkins fumbled the ball, the Hokies recovered and the streak lived on. It is a moment that haunted Perkins for the entire year and one he was eager to overcome in his last game at Scott Stadium.

"I was the last play that ultimately ended losing us the game," Perkins said. "I had to sit with that all year and it hurt so this game, I really wanted to go out there and be aggressive and just give everything I have for this team and not to let them down again and do my part and trust everybody else to do their part and come together as a team to pull this victory off."

Delaney's field goal

In close rivalry matchups, small mistakes can often hold huge implications. After kicker Brian Delaney missed an extra point on Virginia's first touchdown, head coach Bronco Mendenhall admitted he thought that moment could prove disastrous.

"How fitting after a missed extra point early and I thought that was going to haunt us," he said.

Delaney, however, was given a chance to redeem himself and he did just that, kicking a 48-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to tie his career-high and to put Virginia ahead 33-30. That kick proved to be the game-winner.

"A.J. Mejia, our other kicker came over to me and told me, it's not ending like this," Delaney said. "You're writing your own story, you're writing the ending to this game. We just had the confidence there in just knowing I could do what we had to do."

"I guess you'd have to think when was the last time, at least in my tenure, that we kicked the ball through the up-rights in that kind of pressure-filled moment to win a football game?" Mendenhall said. "It's just another breakthrough and really proud and happy for Brian because he's done a really nice job all year."

Three straight sacks

After Delaney's kick, Virginia Tech got the ball back with 1:23 to go down by three. That's when Virginia's defense took over. Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker was sacked by Zane Zandler on first down, sacked by Matt Gahm on second and stripped and sacked in the end zone by Mandy Alonso on third down. Eli Hanback would recover the fumble for the defensive touchdown.

Virginia had three sacks in the game before that drive. When asked what the difference was in that last stand, Mendenhall admitted that the Hokies offense had the Cavaliers fooled up to that point.

"Really the situation of the game changed," he said. "We just could not dial in when they were going to run or when they were going to throw and so we were guessing the entire second half. The situation that Tech was placed in at the end, we knew they were going to throw and that allowed us to actually make the right calls versus what they were going to do. To their credit, they had us off balance the second half and our players responded."

Rushing the field

The college blue bloods may scoff at fans of a nine-win team rushing the field after beating an eight-win team, but the celebration from the fans was a reflection of how much breaking the streak really meant.

Shaking hands

With the fans rushing the field, Mendenhall lost sight of his counterpart, Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente, as he tried to make it across the field to shake hands. Mendenhall expressed his respect for Fuente following the game and the level of effort both coaches went through to finally congratulate one another.

"I was trying to find Justin to shake hands and there was just no chance," he said, "So by the time we made it around the crowd, anyway we did get matched up in his tunnel and it was just amazingly classy of him to come out from his team as we finally were able to get just a chance to shake hands."

Breaking the rock

Since the start of the 2018 season, Virginia celebrates every win with "breaking the rock." A rock with the opposing team's logo is placed on the floor of the locker room and a player is given the honors of breaking it with a sledgehammer.

On Saturday, it was Mendenhall's turn. He protested initially, but gave in at the insistence of his players.

A visibly emotional Mendenhall described the moment as the "ultimate compliment."

MORE NCAA NEWS:

College Football Week 14 What to Watch: Rivalry week

damonhazelton_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

College Football Week 14 What to Watch: Rivalry week

Virginia Tech and Virginia meet in Charlottesville for a winner-take-all rivalry matchup to decide the ACC Coastal Division. Plus, Penn State wraps up its regular season against Rutgers, Maryland's season comes to a merciful end and Navy looks to win the AAC West.

Here is a breakdown of all the local action.

Virginia vs. No. 24 Virginia Tech

When: 12 p.m. Friday
Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
How to watch: ABC

Virginia has not beaten the Hokies since 2003. This year, the teams meet to battle for the Commonwealth Cup with the ACC Coastal Division crown and a probable trip to the Orange Bowl on the line.

No. 10 Penn State vs. Rutgers

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
How to watch: BTN

From playing the biggest game of the week in college football to wrapping up the regular season against Rutgers. Talk about a let down.

Maryland at Michigan State

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
How to watch: FS1

A season that began with such promise has turned into a disaster for the Terps. It all mercifully will come to a close on Saturday against Michigan State.

Navy at Houston

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas
How to watch: ESPN2

The AAC Division is still up for grabs. Navy needs to beat Houston and for Memphis to lose to Cincinnati.

Game of the week: No. 15 Auburn vs. No. 5 Alabama

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
How to watch: CBS

On NBC Sports Washington

Syracuse vs. Wake Forest

When: 12:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

Other local teams

Old Dominion vs. Charlotte, 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Week 13: Penn State's division and playoff hopes extinguished in Columbus

usatsi_13700853.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Week 13: Penn State's division and playoff hopes extinguished in Columbus

Penn State saw its high hopes for the season fade in a loss to Ohio State, Virginia and VIrginia Tech are on a collision course, Navy is still in it and Maryland's tailspin got even worse.

Here's a recap of the Week 13's local college football action.

Ohio State 28, Penn State 17

The good

Ohio State has steamrolled every team it has played this season. Its lowest margin of victory coming into Saturday was 24 points. It looked like this game would not be much different as the Buckeyes took a 21-0 lead into halftime. Give credit to Penn State for the way they battled back.

Quarterback Will Levis stepped in for an injured Sean Clifford and punched the ball in on a one-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14. Penn State would score 17 points in the third quarter to pull within four of the Buckeyes before a fourth-quarter touchdown for Ohio State put the game out of reach.

The bad

Justin Fields threw for only 188 yards. The real difference for Ohio State's offense was the running game which Penn State had no answer for. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns while FIelds added another 68 yards on the ground.

The crazy

Just in case you forgot how dominant Ohio State defensive end Chase Young was while he was suspended for two games, he put the country on notice with an outstanding performance. He recorded nine total tackles, four tackles for loss and three, that's right, three sacks. He now has 16.5 on the year, breaking a school record for sacks in a single season.

Think about that. Young missed two games and still set the single-season record.

Virginia 55, Liberty 27

The good

A depleted Virginia secondary delivered the turning point of the game. Liberty led 14-10 in the first half and drove the ball down to UVA's 38, but quarterback Stephen Calvery was picked off by safety De'Vante Cross who returned it 52 yards beffore being brought down. The Cavaliers would score a touchdown on the resulting drive and they would not trail again.

The bad

Despite Cross' game-changing interception, Liberty was still able to move the ball through the air effectively throwing for 313 passing yards. Part of that was out of necessity. Calvert ended up completing less than 50-percent of his 40 passes, but he also threw two interceptions.

The crazy

On their first drive in the second half, the Cavaliers led 24-14 and faced a fourth and nine on Liberty's 31. Bronco Mendenhall dialed up a fake field goal and backup quarterback Brennan Armstong found linebacker Charles Snowden for a 24-yard pass. Two plays later, Virginia would get into the end zone for the toudhdown.

Navy 35, SMU 28

The good

If Navy was going to win this game, it would need a big game from Malcolm Perry and it got it. Perry rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries. When the Midshipmen began to find success on the ground in the second half, SMU stacked the box and Perry began torching them through the air as he passed for 162 yards and another touchdown.

Navy took the lead with just over six minutes remaining then stopped SMU on a fourth-and-4 at their own 12 with less than three minutes left to go.

The bad

SMU's first score came on a kickoff return by receiver C.J. Sanders. He went 100 yards on the return tying the longest return in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium history.

The crazy

The MIdshipmen won three games last season. In their third game in 2019, they lost by 12 to Memphis. Now they boast a record of 8-2 and are very much in contention for the AAC West Division. Navy just needs Memphis to lose which they could do against Cincinnati next week who already wrapped up the East Division.

Virginia Tech 28, Pitt 0

The good

Bud Foster's final game at Lane Stadium could not have been scripted better. The Hokies held the Panthers to 177 total yards, only 60 yards rushing, forced one turnover, held them on all three fourth-down attempts and obviously recorded the shutout. This is Virginia Tech's first back-to-back shutouts since 2005.

The bad

Yes, Foster still intends to retire at the end of the season. Justin Fuente was asked this after the game and told the media, "I think his mind is pretty made up."

The crazy

The win sets up a winner-take-all matchup with rival Virginia next week in Charlottesville. Considering that Virginia Tech went 0-2 in conference play to start the season including a 35-point blowout loss at home to Duke, it is amazing that the Hokies have gotten to this point.

Nebraska 54, Maryland 7

The good

The only positive from this game is that the season is almost over. This team seemingly has given up on the remainder of the 2019 season and the results speak for themself.

The bad

Where to begin.

The situation at quarterback is an unmitigated disaster. Four different players got onto the field at quarterback and not one completed 50-percent of his passes. As a team, the Terps completed seven out of 21 passes for 57 yards. No receiver on the team caught more than one pass. Maryland rushed for 149 yards, but the team's leading rusher, Javon Leake, fumbled the ball three times and Maryland lost all three.

Defensively, the Terps gave up 305 yards on the ground and 531 total. Adrian Martinez threw for 194 yards and rushed for another 94. He would score three total touchdowns.

The crazy

Not only did all of this happen on senior day, it also happened against a Nebraska team that had one win on the road, had lost four straight and whose last win came back on Oct. 5.