Last-second field goal lifts Virginia Tech over Virginia, 17-14

Cody Journell connected on a 29-yard field goal as time expired, aided by questionable endgame strategy by UVa. coach Mike London, and Virginia Tech won its ninth straight over Virginia, 17-14.

The Journell field goal came after the redshirt junior had missed from 41 yards with 3:38 left. Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco threw back-to-back incompletions on the next series, and on third down was intercepted by Antone Exum, who returned the ball to the UVa. 24.

Martin Scales converted a third-and-two with a short run, and London elected not to use either of UVa.’s final two timeouts to stop the clock, allowing Tech to run the clock all the way down to four seconds left before Hokies coach Frank Beamer sent Journell out to kick.

London then used the timeouts in succession to try to ice Journell, but his kick was perfect down the middle at the clock hit triple-zeroes.

The game was tied 7-7 at halftime. Tech got on the board first on a 7-yard pass from Logan Thomas to Randall Dunn with 10:30 left in the second quarter. Virginia responded on a 42-yard pass from Rocco to Tim Smith at the 3:30 mark.

UVa. took the lead in the third when Brent Urban scooped up a Thomas fumble and ran it back 16 yards for a Wahoo touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 10:55 left in the third quarter. Virginia then had a chance to make it a two-score game later in the third, driving to the Hokie 21, where Rocco missed on a third-down pass to a streaking Perry Jones that would have been a sure UVa. touchdown, then coming up short on an ill-advised fake-field-goal attempt on fourth down when holder Jacob Hodges was stopped two yards short of the first down at the Tech 15.

Virginia Tech took the ball from there on a 17-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a Thomas 4-yard run that tied the game at 14.

UVa. did not seriously threaten on any of its offensive possessions in the fourth quarter, getting the ball to the 50-yard line for two plays before a sack of Rocco pushed the Cavs back into their own territory.

The much-maligned Virginia Tech defense gave up just 217 yards to Virginia, including 30 yards on the ground on 20 carries. The Virginia D did an admirable job on the Tech offense, limiting the Hokies to 303 total yards, and harassing Thomas into an 18-for-38 day throwing the ball.

Thomas passed for 129 yards and ran for 89 yards on 29 carries.

Even with its own difficulties running the ball – Virginia Tech ran 57 times for 174 yards, a 3.1-yards-per-carry average – the Hokies were able to keep the sticks moving enough to keep an increasingly weary Virginia defense on the field, which was a big aid in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

Virginia Tech finished with 23 first downs, to just seven for Virginia, and had a 37:30-to-22:30 advantage in time of possession.

The win lifts Virginia Tech to a 6-6 record and pulls the Hokies into the realm of the bowl-eligible – and helps Tech avoid what would have been its first losing season in 20 years.

Virginia finishes the year with a 4-8 record – the second 4-8 season in London’s three years at UVa. The losing season is the fifth in the last seven years for Virginia.

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