CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia football came into its season finale looking to reclaim the Commonwealth Cup, and there was ample reason to expect a competitive game at Scott Stadium.

Instead, Virginia Tech dominated from the start. The Hokies outplayed UVA on offense, defense and special teams Saturday to secure a 55-17 victory before an announced crowd of 42,976.


The Cavaliers finished their second season under head coach Tony Elliott with a 3-9 overall record. They went 2-6 in ACC play. The 55 points were the most Virginia has allowed against Tech in a series that dates back to 1895.

“It starts with me,” Elliott said. “I have to do a better job of having the team ready to play week in and week out. I’ll evaluate that, but I just didn’t feel like we had the right look in our eye really from the time we ran out for the game, and that’s on me.”

The Hokies (6-6, 5-3) became bowl-eligible with their win, their third straight in a series they lead 61-38-5.

“We’ll watch the tape and see exactly what the breakdowns were,” Elliott said. “But they made the plays consistently. We didn’t. In all three phases we gave away some snaps, and then ultimately it got to a point to where you’re in such a deficit, it’s hard to come back from that.”

The Hokies led 10-0 after a first quarter in which UVA’s offense gained 27 yards and didn’t pick up a first down. At the half it was 24-09, and the Wahoos had 60 yards of offense.

Tech stretched its lead to 31-0 early in the third quarter on quarterback Kyron Drones’ 84-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver De’Quen Felton. Virginia finally scored midway through the third quarter, when sophomore Will Bettridge’s 25-yard field goal to 31-3. Moments later, however, Tech’s Bhayshul Tuten returned Matt Ganyard’s kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

“DNA-wise, I didn’t feel like it was Virginia football today,” Elliott said. “I didn’t quite feel like we played with the effort, the tenacity and the toughness. I can live with mistakes. But I just didn’t feel like DNA-wise, just the things that we hang our hat on, we didn’t do a great job of coaching that or performing.”

This was the longtime rivals’ first meeting since 2021. They were scheduled to clash last November in Blacksburg, but the game was canceled after the shooting that took the lives of three UVA players.

Tech is in its second year under Brent Pry, who like Elliott experienced the rivalry for the first time as a head coach Saturday.

“I gotta tip my hat to Brent,” Elliott said. “They did a heck of a job today. They were ready to play. They took it to us early on. I didn’t have my guys ready to play, but I’m not gonna make this bigger than what it is. This is one game. We’re gonna learn from it, and we’re gonna get better this offseason. We got to wait unfortunately for 365 days to get another shot.”

UVA scored two touchdowns, both on passes from true freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea to wideout Malachi Fields. Fields finished with six catches for 89 yards. On many teams, he’d be the No. 1 receiver, but the Hoos have Malik Washington, a graduate transfer from Northwestern who capped his final college season with 14 catches for 115 yards.

Washington finished the season, his first at Virginia, with 110 receptions, a single-season ACC record, for 1,426 yards. In 10 games, he recorded at least 100 yards receiving, and in one of the other two he had 97 yards.

“That’s pretty special,” Elliott said “But it also speaks to his durability, his availability, the way that he prepares. He’s a fierce competitor. He continues to find ways to push himself to get better. So it’s been awesome to watch him perform and I’m just really really grateful that he believed in [offensive coordinator Des Kitchings], myself and this offense to come in and show what can be done with this program.”

Washington said he’s seen himself “not only become a better football player, but a better person. And it’s because of the guys I was around. It’s because of the coaches I was around, the situations that I was put in. I was able to grow from those situations and see myself become a better person, and then just on the field, I gained a lot of confidence this year just each and every week, talking with the O staff and talking with my teammates.”

Virginia’s defense allowed 500 yards. Of the Hokies’ offensive touchdowns, five came on plays of 32 yards or longer. UVA rarely pressured Drones, who passed for 244 yrds and three TDs.

“I don’t think you wallow in it,” Virginia defensive coordinator John Rudzinski said. “I think you gotta get back in that weight room. I think you got to go back and you gotta go train. That’s the mentality that this group is going to have. It’s the only decision that we can make, [to] go back to work. I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone else other than myself and [asking], how I can be better for this program?”

The Cavaliers’ offense totaled 286 yards, its fewest since the season opener against Tennessee. Colandrea, after a rough start, finished 29-of-46 passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. But he faced an intense pass rush for most of the game. Tech, which controlled the line of scrimmage, recorded six sacks and limited Virginia to 43 yards rushing.

“You can’t bury it,” UVA offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said of the loss. “It’s there. And we got to live with it for another 364 days. But at the same time, we can learn from it, and just continue to close the gap as a team, as an offense, executing better, controlling the emotions of the game.”


Virginia Player Notes 

  • Wide receiver Malik Washington caught a career-high 14 passes for 114 yards. It marked his seventh-straight game with 100 yards receiving. He finished the season with 110 receptions, 1,426 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
  • Washington broke the ACC single-season records for receptions (110) and receptions per game (9.16) in a season. His 1,426 receiving yards are the fifth-most in a single season in ACC history.
  • Washington passed LaJohntay Wester (FAU) for the national lead in receptions.
  • Washington is the sixth player in ACC history with 100 receptions in a season, joining Jamison Crowder (Duke), Steve Ishmael (Syracuse), Sammy Watkins (Clemson), Josh Downs (UNC) and Jordan Addison (Pitt). 
  • The 14 receptions were second-most ever in a game by a UVA player behind Alvin Pearman’s 16-catch performance against Florida State in 2003. 
  • Washington recorded his 10th100-yard receiving game of the season, the most by any UVA receiver in a season and career.
  • Washington accumulated 1,706 all-purpose yards (1,426 rec. & 273 KR) in 2023, the fifth-most in a single-season in UVA history. 
  • Washington extended his consecutive games with a reception streak to 37 games.
  • Malachi Fields established career highs in receiving touchdowns (2) and receiving yards (89). He finished the season with 58 receptions for 811 yards and five touchdowns. The 58 receptions in 2023 are tied for the 16thmost in a season in program history.
  • Jonas Sanker made a team-high 10 tackles (8 solo), had one tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup in the contest. He led UVA in tackles in seven of the 12 games this season. Sanker finished the year with a team-high 107 tackles, the most by a UVA defensive back since Quin Blanding – 137 tackles in 2017.