CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia Tech kicker Eric Kristensen kicked three field goals, Virginia Tech’s defense kept Virginia out of the end zone, and the Hokies knocked off the Cavaliers 16-6 in an ACC game played Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, 5-3 in the ACC. Tech beat its in-state rival for the 10th straight time and for the 14th time in the past 15 games. Virginia finished the season with a 2-10 mark, 0-8 in league play.
“I’m proud of our football team,” said Tech coach Frank Beamer, who is 18-9 against UVa as the head coach. “What we accomplished is hard to do over your in-state rival. I think it meant a lot to both teams, and both teams played exceptionally hard. I’m proud to come out of here with a win.
“I’ll be honest with you, when we started the new year with all the new people we had … we had new running backs and J.C. Coleman was hurt. We lost our tight end [Ryan Malleck] in preseason and he was a vital part of the offense. Then we lose our two corners [Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller] who are probably going to play in the NFL. You can go on and on. We could have had a couple of more wins, but we could have lost a couple, too. To get eight wins and to go to a bowl, I’m proud of this team.”
Not all was grand for the Hokies on this day, though. Tech saw its chances at winning the ACC’s Coastal Division end when Duke downed North Carolina earlier in the afternoon. Duke will take on Florida State next Saturday night in the ACC Championship Game.
But the Hokies weren’t complaining afterward.
“You’ve got to give it up to Duke,” Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said. “I think they lost their first two ACC games and then ran the table. They deserve it. They went out and did it. We didn’t handle our side of it. We didn’t handle our business when it mattered. So we can’t say anything about it.”
“Some of our goals, we obviously didn’t achieve,” Tech mike linebacker Jack Tyler said. “But when you get a win like this [Virginia] against an opponent like this, you’re nothing more than a success. We’ve still got a bowl game in front of us that we’re going to have to play well and win. Maybe we should have won some of those games that we lost, but looking back, I’ll think of this season as a success.”
Tech scored on four of its six possessions in the first half against the Cavaliers, but struggled to get the ball in the end zone, settling for short field goals by Kristensen, a walk-on from Ann Arbor, Mich., who replaced the dismissed Cody Journell before the Maryland game. Tech got inside the UVa on three of its first four possessions, and those drives ended with Kristensen field goals.
On its first drive of the game, Tech went 78 yards in 11 plays. The Hokies had three cracks at a score from inside the UVa, but ultimately settled for a 22-yard field goal by Kristensen that gave the Hokies a 3-0 lead.
Virginia tied the game at 3 on a 36-yard field goal by Alec Vozenilek on its ensuing possession, but the Hokies regained the lead on another Kristensen field goal after their drive stalled at the UVa 13. Kristensen’s 30-yard field goal gave the Hokies a 6-3 lead with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
UVa tied it at 6 on a 30-yard field goal by Vozenilek with 12:05 left in the half. But Kristensen’s 38-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the half ended a 67-yard drive and gave the Hokies a 9-6 lead.
“I felt really comfortable here in this stadium, with all the fans we had here,” Kristensen said. “The last game was my first game, and I felt the jitters. This game, I had more confidence in my abilities and thought I could give the team an advantage.”
The Hokies managed to get into the end zone on their final drive of the first half. Taking over at their 35 after UVa failed to convert on fourth-and-11 with 1:04 left, the Hokies marched 65 yards and finished the drive when Thomas hit tailback Trey Edmunds over the middle. Edmunds broke a tackle and ran to the corner of the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown reception, and Kristensen’s extra point gave the Hokies a 16-6 lead at halftime.
It was one of many highlights in the game for Edmunds, a redshirt freshman from Danville, Va. He had runs of 27 and 30 yards in addition to his 26-yard touchdown reception, and he led the Hokies with 93 yards on 11 carries.
But Edmunds’ game and season ended on a 9-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. He suffered a fractured right tibia on the run and will miss the rest of the season. He was scheduled to undergo surgery on Sunday morning at the local hospital in Blacksburg.
“He made a great run after the catch [on the touchdown], and that’s what we’ve got to have to score touchdowns,” Thomas said. “It’s sad to see him go down with an injury, especially the one that it is. We’re going to be praying for him. He’s a great player and a great kid.”
“I’m sorry to see Trey go down,” Beamer said. “I thought he was having his best game at Virginia Tech. But we’ll get that thing healed up and get him rolling again next year.”
Tech had a chance to take a commanding lead early in the second half. The Hokies got to the UVa 24, on third-and-9, a Thomas pass was tipped and intercepted by UVa’s DreQuan Hoskey, ending the threat.
It didn’t matter, as Tech’s defense stifled the Cavaliers for the rest of the game. The Cavaliers amassed just 285 yards for the game – and only 120 yards after halftime.
The Hokies’ defense has allowed just two offensive touchdowns to UVa in the past four meetings between the two schools.
“I think that says how our defensive coaching staff and our players react to this game,” Tyler said. “Everybody knows the caliber of this game and the quality of opponent that UVa is. All week, we practiced hard, and I think it showed. We were energized and ready to go today [Saturday].”
The Hokies finished with 364 yards. Thomas completed 13 of 29 for 229 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Demitri Knowles caught four passes for a career-high 101 yards.
Tech now awaits its bowl destination. The Hokies will be headed to their 21st consecutive bowl and are one of six programs in college football history to go to a bowl in at least 20 straight years.
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