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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (hokiesports.com) – Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye hit a field goal with 1:38 remaining, and safety Chuck Clark sealed the game with an interception in the final minute to lift the Hokies past in-state rival Virginia 23-20 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The win marked Tech’s 12th straight over the Cavaliers and also moved the Hokies to 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the ACC. The Hokies extended another streak, becoming bowl eligible for the 23rd consecutive season. Virginia closed its season with a 4-8 record, 3-5 in the ACC.
The game marked the final regular-season game for Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who announced Nov. 1 that he was retiring at the conclusion of this season. For the second straight week, Tech’s players carried their head coach off the field, only this time, the ride was much more enjoyable.
“That game showed everything we’ve tried to do at Virginia Tech,” Beamer said. “Relentless – I love that word – we got down and found a way to come back. We got down and found a way to come back. We got it at the end. We did some good things in the kicking game, getting field position. The defense played great, and the offense made plays. Everything that we talk about – hanging in there, don’t give in, play your best when it counts – that kind of came through today.
“I told them in there that I really appreciate them letting me be a part of this thing. It’s a great group of coaches and a great group of kids, and if we hadn’t come out on this end of it, I would have said the same thing. Winning and losing doesn’t change that. I’m really, really proud of them. I’ve got to say thanks to the administration. Whit [Babcock, Virginia Tech’s AD] and his staff could not have treated me any better – better than I deserve. I really appreciate what they’ve done.”
Tech trailed by seven on two occasions in the second half, but rallied both times. The final time came midway through the fourth quarter when they trailed 20-13 after Virginia quarterback Matt Johns threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Canaan Severin with 10:04 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, though, the Hokies quickly went 75 yards in six plays. On third-and-15 from the UVA 27, quarterback Michael Brewer threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Ford, and Slye extra point tied the game with 8:40 left.
“When we called the play, I knew he [the defender] was going to bite on the double move,” said Ford, who broke Tech’s single-season record for touchdown receptions on the play. “We got them early in the game, but we weren’t able to connect on it. We came back to it, and he was on it pretty well. But we ran that one [the touchdown play] a little deeper, and it was right at the stick, and we were able to connect.”
Tech’s defense held UVA on the ensuing possession, and the Hokies took over at their own 20 with 6:38 to go. Tech then drove to the Virginia 23, eating five minutes off the clock. The Hokies settled for a 41-yard field goal by Slye that gave them a three-point lead.
“When we got the ball back, I thought we were going to march down and score a touchdown,” Slye said. “With the way our offense was moving the ball in the second half, and especially in that fourth quarter … we were moving as a team and an offense. Right when I saw that second down was kind of shaky [a 4-yard run by Travon McMillian] and we ran it on third down and I thought we were going to get it with Sam [Rogers, who lost a yard], but we didn’t.
“I went on the field, and I knew they trusted me to put it in my hands. I was waiting for it. I wanted it in my hands, and I’m glad it was in my hands.”
Virginia had time for one final drive, taking over at its 20 with 1:38 to go. But on the third play of the drive, Clark intercepted Johns’ pass, and the Hokies then ran out the clock, giving Beamer his 20thvictory over the Cavaliers.
Tech’s offense struggled for much of the afternoon and only finished with 304 yards, but 134 of that came in the fourth quarter when the Hokies amassed 17 points to rally past the Cavaliers.
Brewer paced the Hokies offensively by completing 15 of 29 for 237 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Travon McMillian rushed for 81 yards on 18 carries.
Virignia finished with 433 yards of offense, including 262 on the ground. Reid rushed for 103 yards on nine carries.
The Hokies will now await their bowl destination, which will be announced after next weekend’s slate of games.