Cavaliers Upset No. 12 Georgia Tech 24-21
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Perry Jones ran for 149 of Virginia’s 272 yards on the ground and the Cavaliers beat No. 12 Georgia Tech at its own game, 24-21, on Saturday night.
The Cavaliers (4-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) sealed the victory by holding onto the ball for the final 6 minutes, making five first downs to get inside the Yellow Jackets’ 5.
But they didn’t need to score, and when quarterback Michael Rocco took a knee for a 3-yard loss on the game’s final play, thousand of fans surged onto the field at Scott Stadium.
Georgia Tech (6-1, 3-1), off to its best start since 1966, came in with one of the nation’s top offenses, but it was held to just two pass completions and a season-low 296 yards by a Virginia defense that made the most of an extra week to prepare for the tricky triple option.
Kevin Parks ran for one touchdown for Virginia, Rocco hit Tim Smith for a 37-yarder and Clifton Richardson had a 22-yard run, all in the first half, as Virginia built a 24-14 lead.
Georgia Tech almost struck very quickly to start the second half, with Tevin Washington running 85 yards on the first play from scrimmage, but the play was called back by a penalty.
The Yellow Jackets then did it the hard way, using 19 plays and converting two fourth-and-1 plays and a fourth-and-5 before Washington scored on a 1-yard run. The fourth-and-5 was initially a fourth-and-10, but defensive tackle Nick Jenkins was called for being offsides, and Washington ran for 23 yards on the next play to the Cavaliers’ 5 and scored two plays later.
The teams traded punts the rest of the way until Virginia took over at its 23 with just under 6 minutes left. Jones started with runs of 11 and eight yards, caught an 18-yard pass from Rocco to convert a third-and-6 from the Virginia 49 and the Cavaliers never gave it up.
Virginia gained 407 yards against former coach Al Groh’s 3-4 defense.
Washington finished with 115 yards on 26 carries, but was 2-for-8 passing for 24 yards.
The Yellow Jackets erased a 14-0 deficit with two touchdowns in 98 seconds in the second quarter. Washington capped an 80-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, and Rod Sweeting intercepted a Rocco pass three plays later and returned in 32 yards for the tying touchdown.
Freshman David Watford came on at quarterback for one series for Virginia, and led a 72-yard scoring drive with a big assist from Richardson, also a freshman. He bulled his way for a first down on third-and-1, and also carried it the last 22 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
When Chase Minnifield intercepted a deep pass by Washington on the ensuing series, Rocco came back and led them 41 yards in eight plays to Robert Randolph’s 36-yard field goal.
Virginia struck quickly at the start with two touchdowns in the first 8:20.
The Cavaliers drove 73 yards after the opening kickoff, a drive kept alive by Rocco’s 14-yard pass to Jones on third-and-4 from the Yellow Jackets’ 42 and his 8-yard pass to Tim Smith on third-and-3 from the 23. Two plays later, Parks took it in from the 6, his seventh score.
The Yellow Jackets were penalized twice on their opening series, riling up the crowd at Scott Stadium, and when Rocco hit Smith for 37 yards and a 14-0 lead, it got really loud.