CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Even with a nine-point lead and less than a minute on the clock, Bryce Perkins was not ready to celebrate Virginia finally breaking its Commonwealth Cup drought.
It was only a year ago, in his first experience with Virginia’s annual rivalry game against Virginia Tech, Perkins botched a handoff in overtime that allowed the Hokies to extend their dominance in the series after a wild finish.
“I needed to see zeroes because I remembered last year,” Perkins said Friday after Virginia ended a 15-game losing streak to the 23rd-ranked Hokies and earned its first trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, with a 39-30 victory.
Perkins was a huge part of why the Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2) won, putting up 475 yards of offense. Brian Delaney kicked a go-ahead 48-yard field with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter and Virginia sealed it with a defensive score, causing fans to spill onto the field in a wild celebration.
“I was the last play that ultimately ended up losing us the game. 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 could for the team and not to let them down again,” Perkins said.
Perkins ran for two long touchdowns and passed for another for the Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2), who became the seventh different winner in as many years to win the Coastal Division. Delaney also kicked a 25-yard field goal for Virginia, and his last kick made up for a missed extra point early.
“How fitting after a missed extra point early that I thought was going to haunt us,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Hendon Hooker ran for one touchdown and threw for another for the Hokies (8-4, 5-3), who came in having won six of seven games to surge into championship contention. A rallying defense and Hooker’s steady play drove the surge, but both came up short against Virginia.