Slept On It: 15 Straight

Reflecting on Virginia Tech's comeback, overtime victory over the Hoos after an amazing night's rest.

[Mark Umansky]

Up three points and tasked with stymieing a UVa offense that had run roughshod over them for the better part of the last 30 minutes, the Hokies defense needed a big play. After what appeared to be another easy first down, Bryce Perkins and the Hoos looked poised to reverse nearly a decade-and-a-half of futility on their rival's home turf. I turned to my father with a concerned look on my face and opined, "Tech needs to force a turnover here or it's over." Insightful, right? You probably said or thought the same thing. Mike Burnop sure did, seconds before the fateful snap to follow.

What happened moments later will live forever in Commonwealth Cup history. Perkins took the snap, stared down a ferocious Tech blitz, pulled the ball from tailback Jordan Ellis' hands and put it on the turf a split second before being pummeled by Rayshard Ashby.

Emmanuel Belmar — who played the game on one leg and was caught hobbling between plays multiple times by the television cameras — had the presence of mind to jump on the football and hold on tighter than a pickle jar. "It's fitting that Belmar recovered it," noted Justin Fuente. "He has been beat up and he shows up to practice every day. He got carted off once. He's about playing on one leg out there, but he is tough and what this team is about. For him to recover it, I think that is pretty poetic."

I've watched the replay God-knows-how-many-times and still struggle to visually follow the football from Perkins' hands to the ground. It was an incredible play by all involved, including those to have the wherewithal to spot the errant ball and chase after it. When asked about that fateful play, Ricky Walker remarked:

"I remember in the huddle thinking that we were up by three and that I didn't want to go to another overtime, so I was thinking about how we could win. I said 'A turnover wins the game, so let's go out and do it.' Next thing you know, coach called a blitz and I was going to execute, but I looked back and the ball was on the ground. I saw maroon jerseys hop on it, and they [the people in the crowd] just went wild. Everybody started running on the field, and it was my best feeling yet as a Hokie."

Regardless of whether Perkins handed the ball off or kept it himself, the play seemed destined for a big loss. On the surface, the fumble appeared to be a product of Ellis' shoulder knocking the ball free from Perkins as he executed the play fake. But I'll be damned if it wasn't a product of the Tech defenders bearing down on him from the strong side. In the epic staring contest that is college football overtime, the Hoos blinked first.

While the ending was euphoric, the first 60 minutes were far from it. Initially, the 100th meeting between these two teams was more an exercise in futility. Head-scratching decisions and ulcer-inducing mistakes characterized both teams' starts as drive after drive stalled. Midway through the second quarter, true-freshman Tre Turner broke the game open with a pair of highlight reel plays.

Despite his slight build, Turner continued to showcase his strong ball skills, fending off a Wahoo defender to make a one-handed catch on a Ryan Willis fade to put the Hokies up 7-0. On the ensuing drive, "Big Play Tre" exploded through the UVa punt protection to essentially snatch the ball off of punter Lester Coleman's foot before Jovonn Quillen fell on the football in the endzone to extend the lead to 14.

Suddenly, the Hokies had all of the momentum in front of a raucous home crowd. After Willis avoided a disaster of his own making in the waning minutes of the first half, Tech headed into the locker room up two scores. But as anyone who had subjected themselves to Hokies football in 2018 knew, Tech's witching hour was on the horizon.

The second half was a familiar script for Virginia Tech. A previously adept Hokies defense once again looked incapable of making a stop, allowing a suddenly clinical UVa offense to score touchdown after touchdown. The Hoos began the second half with touchdown drives of 75, 75, 75 and 85 yards to move ahead of the Hokies 28-24 with 6:51 to play.

It was absolutely painful to watch. Nothing ever felt certain, especially when you consider how this season has gone. But Tech looked poised to transcend their recent second half woes in a resurgent performance against their archrival. To see them falter once again was agonizing. For it to happen against the Hoos with two streaks on the line was devastating.

The defensive execution was again horrendous, with missed tackles abound. Perkins looked unstoppable on the ground and through the air, ultimately accounting for 3 touchdowns and 371 of Virginia's 423 total yards. And even on an afternoon where the Hokies offense was able to put points on the board in the second half, Tech's defense was so atrocious that it cast a pall over Lane Stadium.

Bud Foster, who once again called plays from the booth, touched on a few of the Hokies' defensive struggles after the win.

"The disappointing thing is that we gave up a big play on a five-yard out. We missed two tackles on that play that turned into a 75-yard touchdown run. Those are plays that we have to eliminate and those are plays that haven't gone against us over the years. The last touchdown that they got we brought the pressure and you just have to go make the tackle. Our coverage in the back end of the second half was awful. We have to be better than that and more consistent than that. We talked about as a defense going into this game that we have to execute every play."

Down 4 with just under 7 minutes to play, Willis and the Virginia Tech offense looked to reverse the momentum after 14 unanswered points by the Cavaliers. Desperately in need of a spark, Willis struggled to get the ball to his receivers as the UVa defense disrupted play-after-play. When defender Charles Snowden picked off Willis deep in Tech territory, the Commonwealth Cup appeared destined for Charlottesville.

With all of the momentum behind them, the UVa offense took the field looking to put the Hokies away. That's when things got weird.

Astonishingly, the Wahoo offense let their foot off the gas. Conservative playcalling allowed the Tech defense to bottle up the Cavaliers' rushing attack and force a field goal. Trailing by 7 with 2:41 left in regulation, the beleaguered Hokies offense trotted back onto the field as Tech fans filed out of the stadium. On third-and-10 from the Virginia Tech 25-yard line, Willis rolled left and threw a jump ball to a streaking Dalton Keene who outmuscled his defender to come away with the football. Suddenly, there was hope.

While it pales in comparison to the drama surrounding Danny Coale's sideline catch-and-run to the Nebraska goal line in 2009, it was a comparable game-changing play at a critical moment from deep in Tech territory. The moment felt similarly dire, desperately in need of a spark (despite what Fuente said after the game).

"We were not in desperation mode on Keene's catch but it was getting there quickly. Ryan just bought some time, I don't know what he saw. I just know he threw the ball up there and Dalton making that catch is indicative of the type of person Dalton is. I don't think there is anyone who was surprised that he came down with it."

Two plays later, Steven Peoples exploded through the line towards paydirt. With a full head of steam, Peoples was stripped of the ball inside the 5, pushing it forwards and into the UVa end zone. Hezekiah Grimsley, who was actively pursuing the play downfield, pounced on the football to put Tech within an extra point of tying the game.

After choosing to take their chances in overtime, the Hokies converted their first offensive possession into a Brian Johnson field goal — an action that had hardly been routine, of late. That's when the college football script writers had one final plot twist, in the form of Perkins' game-ending fumble.

During a season in which everything had seemingly gone wrong for the Hokies, they finally caught a few breaks. To chalk their win up to chance does them a disservice. As cliché as it sounds, despite the defense's characteristically poor second half performance, they never quit. They kept attacking until the game was over, most especially Belmar. While his teammates streaked toward the south endzone in pursuit of a jubilant Khalil Ladler, Belmar was fighting a UVa offensive lineman to ensure the Commonwealth Cup was filled with Rails and not Zima on Friday night.

The Hokies' win makes it 15 straight against the Wahoos. Justin Fuente was quoted on the television broadcast as saying, "If they're gonna get us, it better be this year." Though UVa returns Perkins next season, they will be forced to replace most of their key contributors, including Ellis, Olamide Zaccheaus, Juan Thornhill, Tim Harris and Evan Butts. Considering the widespread injuries and high percentage of young players Tech was forced to battle with this season, the Commonwealth Cup looks poised to stay in Blacksburg for the foreseeable future. But if we learned anything from Friday's Virginia Tech victory, it's that anything can happen in these matchups.

Now the Hokies are tasked with pivoting to a talented Marshall squad with the bowl streak once again on the line. "Playoff Football", as Fuente has termed it, will again be the theme when Tech takes the field on Saturday looking to salvage a season believed to be lost as recently as the fourth quarter on Friday.

When asked how victories like the one over Virginia can affect a team's confidence, Grimsley stated, "They show us that we can be that team — of course we didn't want to be the team that ended the streak [against UVA]. We knew what was at stake, but games like this make us realize that we can be bigger than what we have been in the past."

If there's one thing we've learned from this season, it's that things can snowball rather quickly. Plays that seem innocuous in the moment can, in hindsight, prove to be critical junctures in the game. As big plays become more common and repeatedly close games rapidly turn into blowouts, they wear on the psyche of all involved. Whether it be coaches, players or fans, once the proverbial ball begins rolling in a potentially negative direction, it can be impossible to ignore the voice in one's head groaning, "Oh, not again!"

The fact that the Hokies were able to claw back Friday night in spite of another letdown stretch is remarkable. Considering the stakes, it was even more impressive.

When asked to reflect on the Hokies' season thus far, Jovonn Quillen noted, "I'm not going to say that it has been disappointing. We have had a lot to learn, and we don't like using the word young, but we have had a lot to learn. Even though we were losing, we were still coming together as a team, and so in this game right here, we just had to put the cake together."

That cake — full of Hoo tears and sweet, sweet victory — tastes absolutely delicious.

Comments

But if we learned anything from Friday's Virginia Tech victory, it's that anything can happen in these matchups.

Well I sure came to a different conclusion...

Great write up!

Love it still pumped up. Really needed this game afte rthe terrible season we have had. Bring on the herd!

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Great write-up, articulated very well.

I have to admit, I all but gave up on them with that interception. We left the game on, and my wife and 6-year old son reminded me over and over to "never give up". It proved to be a great teaching point in our household. I pride myself on staying positive, but boy this season left me jaded and lacking confidence in this squad.

I've never been happier to be wrong. So proud of this team and their desire to finish. We tettered on defeat so many times, one play could have altered the script. But we won.

WE WON! Never give up Hokies, never give up.

If it ain't orange, it better be maroon...and if it ain't maroon, it better be soon!

With 2:44 in the second quarter after our first TD, loluva on their first play for whatever reason called a timeout prior to Perkins completing a pass that would have been a first down, if not a big gain. Now, who knows how that drive plays out if they hadn't, but it's a play that most probably have forgotten. As we all know, it ended with Beamerball!

In a game that had so many wild swings, it's clear that on this day the football god's were on our side.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

I think his knee was down prior to him releasing the ball on that play

Jovonn Quillen - obviously Team Cake. Smart young man right there.

The Cup is going nowhere Mikey!

If UVA couldn't beat us this year, I feel like it's going to be a long, long time before they can

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Drive for 25

This needs to go plaid.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

Maybe that's why no one is donating? They think Drive for 25 is about the streak.

WhyNotBoth.gif

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used."
- The BoD

That cake — full of Hoo tears and sweet, sweet victory — tastes absolutely delicious

ha! Team cake. Love it.

If y'all get Quillen, Dax is on team I Scream.

While his teammates streaked toward the south endzone in pursuit of a jubilant Khalil Ladler, Belmar was fighting a UVa offensive lineman to ensure the Commonwealth Cup was filled with Rails and not Zima on Friday night.

Perfect.

Man, I honestly felt bad for Perkins - the dude played his heart out, and unfortunately t was a mistake that lost them the game that will overshadow his performance. I hate when a mistake causes one team/player to lose a competitive match - prefer to earn rather be handed a victory.

That being said - we still won the game, and UVA had multiple chances to put us away before the snap miscue, and our defense earned this one.

I don't feel at all bad for Perkins.

When looking for a team,

Did he even have the option to choose wisely?

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Did he even have the option to choose wisely?

Though not very good, they do have a football team:

They had multiple opportunities to put this game away, #28 should feel worse than Perkins. He falls on that ball in the end zone rather than trying to scoop it up and it's game over.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Yup, UVA went conservative after the Willis interception. Put up 7 instead of 3 and that's likely the game. No OT and no turnover.

Every year, there's 1 Hoo, that seems to garner the respect of the VT faithful, even in their loss. Zacchaeus was the guy last year. Mizell was the year prior.

Regardless of whether Perkins handed the ball off or kept it himself, the play seemed destined for a big loss.

It's so close that I'm not sure if Perkins hands that ball off that it doesn't go for a TD. Garbutt is being held IMO and Ashby is the only guy he really has to beat.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

I think Ashby has whomever has that ball. Check the giftory:

He's looking at the ball. If Perkins hands it off, it's a TFL, if he keeps it, he's getting planted (he got planted anyway) and a potential fumble from that hit is looming. Either way, if not the fumble we experienced, this play is doomed 'cause Ashby is right there reading the ball.

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Why does it seem that the VT can never get a holding call?!? Every game I see this but it is never called.

This year has seemed especially bad, tons of obvious holding where it would be a game changer. We could do a giftory of holding that should have been sacks yet the page would never load with all those gifs.

We probably would have had more discussions about it over the season if we had won a few more games. But I figure that when that kind of talk comes up after a loss, it gets shot down as sour grapes.

I don't know how much Fuente was serious vs. kidding, but in one of the TTL's recently he mentioned that he doesn't even bother sending in tape for the league to review questionable officiating as he feels no one watches it.

Regardless, there is just too much going on at one time, with so few officiating eyeballs watching, to catch holding every time, even the blatant ones. My father recently said to me about the NFL, "but then again, if they called every instance of holding, there would be so few successful plays."

And that is a serious problem. We have had two games where a textbook example of a horsecaller tackle (LOLUVA) and targeting (Miami) were committed in both cases the officials on the ground never threw a flag. Even more inexcusable, a booth initiated review of the targeting did not eject the player.

There are multiple times per game where our receivers are getting held or interfered with down the field and nothing is called.

In the LOLUVA game, there was a flag for horse collar, but the officials picked it up. They literally announced "there is not flag for horse collar".

There is holding every play, you can't call it all the time, but I'm talking about the super egregious ones where there is nothing to stop us from sacking the qb except a Dlineman holding our defender from behind.

I liked the old Big East and was sad to leave, but I was super happy to leave those officials behind. The ACC was much better, but I don't feel that way any more. And its tough, it's a part time job for these guys. But I feel like we will always lose every time Ron Cherry is calling our game.

Ron Cherry retired in 2017

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

Really? That's the best news I've had all season. No wonder I didn't ser him at any games.

The non-call of targeting in the Miami game was really disappointing.
Leading with the helmet on a defenseless player - I couldn't believe it when
they announced it.

He definitely launched, too.

exit light

I'm in full agreement, just saying it's close to having ended badly for the good guys. Game of inches ya know!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Game of inches: Truth! We're about 7" away from being 3-8. 6" on the forced fumble vs. UNC at the goalline, and 1" for that dude from UVA to fall on our fumble in the end-zone.

I can't imagine what was going through Garbutt's head during that sequence. The ball's just tantalizing him.

No chance the hand off goes for TD. Dax is patrolling back there. You can see it perfectly in this shot. He initially goes for the fake just slightly, then sees the ball come out.

Are my old eyes failing me or does this slower replay, it appear to show that Ashby causes the fumble by making the RB move left to avoid him and that movement causes Perkins to lose the ball by disrupting the mesh point?

I was thinking that the fumble was unforced, but this view makes me see other wise.

Ashby makes the play. His being where he was caused perkins to play fuck fuck games with the football on that mesh, and that's why the ball went on the ground. Eerily reminiscent (to me) of the play that iced the FSU game when they had the freshman running back trying to run the read option and putting it on the ground.

Old sigline: I've been cutting back on the drinking.

New Sigline: lol it's football season.

He absolutely did. All around it was a very well covered play by multiple, and young, members of the defense.

Also try saying "play fuck fuck games" 5 times fast.

Live by the Perkins, die by the Perkins.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I'd be ok with death by Perkins' eclairs.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used."
- The BoD

I'd be ok with a streak of 60!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Perkins: famous for the turnovers in assorted flavors, including extra salt.

"It's a miracle in Blacksburg, TYROD DID IT MIKEY, TYROD DID IT!"

Sup Tiger?

Rip his freaking head off!

the Commonwealth Cup was filled with Rails and not Zima on Friday night

This says it all

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

Finally a video where I can actually see the ball come out!

Dax saw the ball as soon as it came out - lol, watching him crawling over Garbutt trying to get to the ball.

Lucky no targeting call on Ashby - not saying it was, but I've seen lesser hits flagged.

Their face masks collided. I don't think that's targeting, it's a textbook hit.

Yep, if he'd lowered his head, it's targeting. Great to see a kid with a proper form making a tackle.

IMO, the fumble happened because of a combination of two things, both heavily influenced by Ashby's stellar pursuit of the ball.

1.) (It's hard to tell because of how late in the play the GIF starts, but...) Ellis sees the unblocked approach of Ashby and is forced to move left and too close to Perkins to give him enough room to pull the handoff, should he decide to do so. At the same time, Ellis is already lifting his arms to get ready to block Garbutt, who he sees turning the corner around the blocker.

2.) Perkins also sees Ashby flying in, so he decides to pull the handoff, probably hoping that Ashby follows Ellis. But because of 1.), he can't pull the ball out enough, so Ellis' chest knocks the ball out of his left hand, and Perkins is left with a hit to the turf that all the Zima in Hoo'ville couldn't numb.

I don't know which is better in my opinion: games like this one where LOLUVa has the victory within grasp, only for it to be snatched away from them, or games like 2011 where they never had a snowball's chance in Hell. I know the latter are better for my overall health and length of life!

The close ones like this are great for reliving after the fact, but the blowouts are great fun during the three hours they are occurring.

Saw this on Twitter. Hilarious!

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Found a couple more. Enjoy!!
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Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Here are a couple of my favorites:

This one needs another W added to it:

I did some editing on wikipedia today. Don't know how long it will last

loluva

Virginia

2018 season
Virginia started strong with wins over Richmond, Ohio, and Louisville, with a loss to Indiana in week 2. The middle of the season went fairly well, losing to NC State, but following that with wins against Miami, Duke and UNC, before losing again to Pitt. But the Cavs rebounded against tough in-state rival, Liberty, and then lost again to Georgia Tech in the lead up to the 100th installation of the rivalry game against Virginia Tech. Going into the game, the records of FBS opponents that the Cavs had beaten were a combined 26-33, a stat that suddenly dims the shininess of that 7-4 record. But hey, this was a down year for the Hokies, right? If UVA was ever to beat their in -state rival again...this would be the year. The game was going well for the Cavs...until they brought back true LOLUVA form... 15 in a row. GO HOKIES!

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.