Orange Bowl: Despite loss, different outcome for Bryce Perkins

Bryce Perkins uva footballWhen Bryce Perkins last visited Miami and Hard Rock Stadium in October, he failed to lead the Cavaliers into the end zone in a dismal 17-9 loss to the Miami Hurricanes.

In his return to steamy South Florida here Monday evening, it was a different story as he almost single-handedly kept the Cavaliers toe-to-toe with sixth-ranked Florida in the 2019 Orange Bowl.

Florida eventually prevailed, 36-28, but not before Perkins and Virginia forced the Gators to go the distance.

Perkins finished the night and his remarkable UVA career completing 28 of his 40 pass attempts for 323 yards and four touchdowns. It was a fitting end for the transfer from Arizona who accelerated the turnaround of a once moribund program that’s only three years removed from a horrific 2-10 season.

In his return to the Orange Bowl here tonight, Perkins threw two first-half touchdowns to keep No. 24 UVA within striking distance at 24-14 at intermission.

During the first half he was 12-of-16 passing with pinpoint accuracy and acrobatic movements avoiding would-be Florida tacklers.

His first scoring toss came when he hit receiver Terrell Jana perfectly in stride in the far back of the end zone for a 34-yard score.

To remove any doubt that this was not going to be a repeat performance of his October game here in Hard Rock Stadium, Perkins began the game with seven consecutive completions. The pass-completion streak was stopped when Perkins just missed a second scoring strike to Jana when he overthrew him as the receiver broke open streaking to the goal line.

Perkins did convert on that same drive, nonetheless, when he soft-lobbed a a pass for 6-foot-3 senior wideout Hasise Dubois, who rocketed into the air and clutched the ball on the edge of the end zone for the score.

That play alone was a perfect capsule of the remarkable two-year journey for Perkins: eluding a would-be Gator sack in the pocket, breaking two tackles, leaping over a defender before making the throw.

Entering the game, Perkins had already put in a remarkable senior season, completing 64 percent of his passes for 3,215 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. On the ground, Perkins tallied 745 rushing yards and 11 scores.

Simply put, without the play on the field and leadership that  Perkins brought to Virginia football, the Cavaliers aren’t here in South Florida playing in the Orange Bowl.

The Perkins effect may be long-reaching, as he plainly displayed what a potential quarterback in the Bronco Mendenhall system is asked, and allowed to do.

In short, Bryce Perkins was determined to go out a winner here Monday night. And despite the final score, did he ever.

It was his gift to Virginia football that may keep giving for years to come.

Story by Scott German

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