Missed chances doom Virginia against Virginia Tech
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Virginia center Luke Bowanko's final college game ended like too many others.
The Cavaliers squandered scoring chances provided by the defense, made critical mistakes at the most inopportune times and lost 16-6 to in-state rival Virginia Tech on Saturday night, their 10th consecutive loss in the series.
A key moment came in the first half when, trailing 9-6, Max Valles sacked Logan Thomas, forcing him to fumble, and Brent Urban recover at Virginia Tech's 34. It was a potentially huge momentum swing, but Virginia did nothing with it.
"That's a point in this football game when you've got to make a play and we didn't make it, obviously," Bowanko said of the series that started with a loss of a yard and ended with three straight incompletions by David Watford.
"We need to make that play and we haven't all year," Bowanko said.
Indeed, the Cavaliers forced 21 turnovers this season, and turned them into just 13 points. Their lone touchdown off a turnover came in the season-opener against Brigham Young, and after a 2-1 start, they lost their last nine games.
"It's real tough," said sophomore defensive end Eli Harold, who had three of Virginia's five sacks. "It hurts. I'm not used to losing. Not a lot of guys are."
It happened, this time, in a close game where defenses dominated.
The only touchdown came when Trey Edmunds took a short pass 26 yards, and the Hokies' only other scoring came from Eric Kristensen, who kicked three field goals, all before halftime.
The Hokies (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) learned before the game that their hopes of playing in the league championship game were dashed when Duke beat North Carolina 27-25 to win the Coastal Division, but they didn't let it dampen their enthusiasm for beating the Cavaliers for the 14th time in 15 games.
The Cavaliers (2-10, 0-8) lost for the 18th time in their last 22 games overall dating to last season, and saw their last hope for a comeback, brought about by Kevin Parks' 48-yard run to midfield, end on an interception on the next play.
Curious game management by Virginia late in the first half also caused some consternation.
After Virginia went four-and-out following the fumble recovery, the Hokies took over with 1:04 on the clock. Thomas hit Demitri Knowles for 15 yards to midfield, Kalvin Cline for 12 and Willie Byrn for 17 yards to the Cavaliers 26. After missing on two passes, Thomas hit Edmunds with a short dump pass, and Edmunds broke a tackle and scored the touchdown.
Lambert played the fourth quarter after David Watford, who started every game this season, completed 13 of 23 passes for 122 yards in the first three quarters, but twice saw drives inside the Hokies' 20 stall, forcing field goal attempts. Lambert was 4 for 16 for 54 yards, and the Cavaliers never got deeper than Virginia Tech's 48 after the fumble recovery.
The Hokies weren't much better, and Thomas was sacked five times, but in what became a defensive struggle throughout the second half, the Hokies held the Cavaliers to 120 yards after halftime, making the lead more than ample.
The game's first four possessions all yielded field goals - of 22 and 30 yards by Eric Kristensen for the Hokies, who got the ball first, and kicks of 36 and 29 yards by the Cavaliers' Alex Vozenilek.
Virginia finally forced the first punt and drove to the Hokies' 33, but after considering a long field goal, Virginia punted and the Hokies drove 67 yards to Kristensen's go-ahead 38-yard field goal.
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