Bryce Perkins: The last play, a year later

Bryce PerkinsThe play call: RPO. Bryce Perkins broke it down for me moment-for-moment at this year’s ACC Kickoff.

“Run, pass. Tight end in the flat. So, read the defender,” said Perkins, who threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns, and added another 112 yards on the ground, a jaw-dropping performance, until that last play.

Yes. That last play.

Virginia Tech had scored on its first possession of OT, but just a field goal. A Virginia TD wins it, and breaks The Streak.

“We were in the pistol. I didn’t jump back far enough to pull it,” Perkins continued.

“I kind of stayed on the running back’s track. When I jumped back and tried to pull it, I was too close to the running back, so I hit him, while I was trying to pull and throw. The ball came out, and then I tried to reach for it, and I got hit, and they got it, and that was all she wrote.”

Perkins hung his head.

He feels that had he done what he was supposed to do, the ball gets out in the flat, the ‘Hoos score, game over.

“As a player and competitor, it may not always be like this, but when it happened, I looked at myself like I lost the game, like it was the last play that lost the game,” Perkins said. “I always take that to heart, because it was like, man, no matter what you did leading up to that point, the last play, if it was on you, and then replaying all the things that could have happened, just replaying it, it can make you sick.”


Fast forward from a summer afternoon in Charlotte to an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving Week Monday in Charlottesville.

A reporter asked UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall if he’s talked to Perkins about the play, the moment, the game, the opportunity ahead.

Short answer: no.

“I think it can be a catalyst for the best preparation possible,” Mendenhall said. “That takes maturity and perspective to do that, otherwise it can be that, I don’t know, vengeance or overcoming being the primary thing. All the significant either victories or losses, man, they embed within kind of your fiber and they say. You learn from all of those things.

“The key is then, in a case like the overtime fumble a year ago, is acknowledging that and using that simply to prepare as diligently as possible from that point to do your best to improve,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall then stressed what should be obvious: the loss wasn’t due to that one play.

“It’s the same for the coach, as the play call. It’s the same for me in game management, right? It’s all that,” Mendenhall said. “That one play certainly received all the attention, because that’s how the game ended. I think we have to acknowledge that was maybe the most visible of many decisions and things along the way that could have possibly had a similar impact or did.”

Story by Chris Graham

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