Virginia News

Nov 28, 6:21 PM EST

Mistakes doom Virginia in 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech

AP Photo
AP Photo/Steve Helber

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Mike London sat down, sighed heavily, and began his postgame press conference as he has begun so many others in a six-year career at Virginia: "That's a tough way to lose a football game," he said Saturday.

The Cavaliers (4-8, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished their fourth straight sub-.500 season and fifth in six years with another near miss as Joey Slye's 41-yard field goal with 1:38 left gave Virginia Tech a 23-20 victory. It was the Hokies' 12th straight win in the series, and the last four have come by a total of 20 points.

And London, who received just a one-year extension on his contract late last season, now must wait to see if he will be allowed to continue as the Cavaliers coach despite a 27-46 record and a knack for coming up short. He said he will wait until athletic director Craig Littlepage summons him for a conversation.

"It was hard just as a team," quarterback Matt Johns said of the locker room, where seniors whose careers ended did most of the talking. "No one gave up the entire year, and I think everyone on the outside saw that."

But the mistakes that often haunt the Cavaliers rose to haunt them again.

Virginia Tech managed just 304 yards, but 131 of them came on three plays, including the final tying touchdown.

The Cavaliers were penalized nine times for 65 yards, and tried a fake punt on fourth-and-16 from their own 34. Punter Nicholas Conte ran for 15 yards on the play, but was ankle tackled just shy of midfield and the Hokies took over at Virginia's 49 yard-line. Five plays later, the Hokies got a field goal to make it 6-6.

"I think we just had some mental mishaps," defensive tackle David Dean said. "We didn't play our responsibilities and when you do that in games like this you pay for it, and we ended up paying for it."

The Hokies, meanwhile, extended coach Frank Beamer's career by one more game.

Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4) needed the victory to qualify for its 23rd consecutive season-ending bowl game.

After Slye's kick, Chuck Clark sealed the outcome with an interception with 59 seconds remaining.

On the Hokies' winning drive, Michael Brewer hit Isaiah Ford for 21 yards. Then he gained 2 yards on a third-and-1 quarterback sneak near midfield and the Hokies gained 28 yards on five tries by Travon McMillian.

Slye, who hit earlier field goals of 48 and 44 yards, made it a perfect day with his game-winner.

The game was a punting contest with a few field goals sprinkled in until the third quarter when Albert Reid cut through the left side of the line and went 57 yards untouched for a touchdown and 13-6 lead for Virginia.

On the next play, Brewer hit tight end Ryan Malleck over the middle, where he shed a tackle by safety Quin Blanding and went 71 yards to the 4. Two plays later, Brewer hit Sam Rogers for 3 yards and the touchdown.

The Cavaliers responded by driving 90 yards in 12 plays, with Johns hitting Canaan Severin for 27 yards and the touchdown. The play was initially ruled an incompletion, but the call was overturned after an official review.

The Hokies needed six plays to pull even again. Brewer hit Isaiah Ford for 38 yards early in the drive, and then hit him again for 32 yards and the touchdown on a third-and-15 play.

Before halftime, the Hokies pulled even at 6-all thanks to a curious call by Virginia. Facing fourth-and-16 from their 34, they elected to try a fake, and punter Nicholas Conte was pulled down 2 yards shy of midfield. A pass interference call against Kelvin Rainey negated Quin Blanding's interception, and Slye hit from 44.

Virginia took a 6-3 lead with a 67-yard drive in the second quarter. Johns looked to have hit Olamide Zaccheaus in stride in the end zone, but Zaccheaus couldn't hang on and Ian Frye booted his second 42-yard field goal.


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