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Bryce Perkins, Virginia Tech, and the five stages of grief

Bryce PerkinsBryce Perkins has the last play from his first Virginia Tech game etched in his memory.

“It was an RPO. 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.

“We were in the pistol. I didn’t jump back far enough to pull it,” Perkins continued, breaking down that final play, in overtime, UVA trailing 34-31, but a touchdown away from winning on what they’d call a walk-off in baseball.

“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.

“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.”

Talking through things with reporters this week at the ACC Kickoff, Perkins noted that he went through “the five stages of grief” in the wake of the loss, and that heading into Virginia’s game with South Carolina in the Belk Bowl a few weeks later, “it was anger that made me want to get back out there.”

“Whatever else happens, just leave everything else behind and focus on that game. I think we all did that, and I think that was what allowed us to go out there and win in the fashion that we did,” Perkins said.

“Transition to this year, we have to keep that same anger, but apply it to every game, and not wait for a loss for it to be reactivated again,” Perkins said.

Story by Chris Graham