BLACKSBURG, Va. —
These Hokies didn’t want to be “that” team. Thanks to Cody Journell, they’re not.
Journell kicked a 29-yard field goal with no time left on the clock, and Virginia Tech extended a pair of streaks with a 17-14 ACC and Commonwealth Cup win over Virginia in front of 65,632 on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.
“We don’t want to be those guys, we don’t want to be the team that doesn’t make a bowl and we don’t want to be that team that breaks the streak against UVa,” Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said.
“That is the way we had to approach this game, give it everything we have got and credit to the defense, they played one heck of a game other than one miscue, and they kept our offense in the game.
“I would say the defense went out here and won it, but we really needed to come together and win this game to keep those streaks alive. I am so proud of how we played today to be able to do that.”
Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-2) won its ninth straight decision against Virginia, and also qualified for a bowl consideration for a 20th season in a row.
“What we did today allowed us to go on to a bowl game,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “Some of those other team have had more wins than this year and we could have had more wins this year, but it probably makes it a lot more significant that we were just fighting like heck to get to a bowl game.
“For us to overcome some real frustrations this year and so forth, I am really proud of these guys.”
No one enjoyed the final kick more than Journell, who had missed from 42 yards with 3:38 to go, but got another chance after Antone Exum picked off a pass by Virginia’s Michael Rocco and returned it to the Cavaliers’ 24.
Journell, who missed the bowl game experience last season after getting suspended following an arrest for breaking and entering, made a field goal to force overtime in last week’s win over Boston College, and then survived a pair of timeouts in the final seconds to secure the win for the Hokies.
“It is great. I feel blessed to be able to come back and play with all my brothers on this team again and the coaches have my back,” said Journell, a product of Giles High School, who also had a game-winning field goal in the season-opening win over Georgia Tech.
“The way this season has gone I couldn’t ask for it to go any better, and then me being able to put us in the position to go to a bowl game again just feels great.”
It has also been a disappointing season for Virginia (4-8, 2-6), which was expected to challenge for the ACC Coastal Division title, but a six-game losing streak in midseason ended those hopes. A loss last week to North Carolina ended any bowl hopes and the Cavaliers were hoping to do the same to the Hokies.
Instead, the Hokies won for the 13th time in 14 games against Virginia. The last time Virginia Tech lost to the Cavaliers, Honaker product and Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight end Heath Miller played for Virginia.
“We say all the time there is a number of things a team is remembered for and one of them is how they did against the rivals and over the last 10 years we have been dominant against UVa,” Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler said.
“It just says a lot about this program, even though it has been a down year, everybody stayed together, everybody still trusted all the coaches and all their teammates and really came together today to get the win.”
Neither team did much with the ball in the opening half, with the teams trading touchdowns and 14 punts to go into the break tied at 7-7.
Virginia Tech, which punted nine times, including eight in the first half, had one extended drive, with Logan Thomas connecting with Randall Dunn from 7 yards, with Journell adding the extra point with 10:30 left in the second quarter.
Virginia, which had just 217 yards in the game — including 30 on the ground — got its biggest play with 3:30 on the clock when Rocco completed a short pass to Tim Smith and he dashed 42 yards to the end zone. Drew Jarrett added the extra point to make it 7-7.
The Cavaliers managed just 68 yards in the second half, including only five in the fourth quarter. Virginia also punted nine times in the game, and had two turnovers, losing a fumble in the first quarter and the key interception in the fourth.
“You had to find a way to move the ball,” Virginia head coach Mike London said. “If you are not running the ball with success, then you have to do things to use the passing game and get the ball into the hands of the receivers … They did a good job of stopping us and kind of making us one dimensional.”
Virginia opened the second half by scoring with its defense. The Hokies were pinned deep in their own territory when Thomas was sacked by Jake Snyder and Eli Harold, forcing a fumble, which was picked up by Brent Urban, who ran it in from 16 yards for the touchdown and 14-7 lead after Jarrett was successful on the conversion kick.
“Today we were able to get in there and battle,” Beamer said. “We missed a tackle on the first touchdown and then the second touchdown Logan was just trying to make a play, but it was a bit too easy.”
There was an opportunity for Virginia to increase the lead on its next possession, with Jarrett lined up for a field goal from the 21-yard line. However, the Cavaliers faked, but Chase Williams stopped Jake Hodges two yards short of the eight yards he needed for the first down.
London was concerned about Jarrett making the kick with a swirling wind blowing on the field.
“Not that it was out of his range, but it was close,” London said. “You notice the wind there a little bit, there was a swirling wind out there … I felt good about the call. We were only two yards short of the first down, but unfortunately we didn’t make it.”
Virginia Tech took advantage, using a season-high 15 plays to drive 85 yards in just over six minutes, with the Hokies converting six first downs, led by Thomas , who ran for 89 yards on 29 carries. He was also 18-of-38 for just 129 yards through the air.
Thomas capped the drive with a 4-yard run up the middle, and Journell followed with the extra point to tie the score at 14-14 with 1:25 left in the third period.
“With the conditions the way they were it was tough to do anything in the passing game, we like to attack them downfield, but the wind was swirling,” Thomas said. “I didn’t have a problem with it on my shoulders. I have had a couple of games with 25-plus carries, but we did a great job up front all day.”
Virginia Tech was able to get within field goal range with 3:35 on the clock, but Journell was wide left on the 42-yard field goal attempt as he tried to compensate for the wind.
“We had the (wind) at our back, but it was kind of blowing east so I tried to put it right at the left upright and I pulled it just a little bit,” Journell said. “The wind never moved the ball so when I went out the second time I just kicked it as hard as I can and it went straight.”
He got that chance when Rocco attempted to connect with Smith, but Exum jumped in front of the pass for the interception and returned it to the 24. Exum also had a forced fumble and recovery in the first quarter.
Rocco was 14-of-29 for 177 yards passing. Kevin Parks led the Cavaliers with 21 yards on the ground.
Virginia Tech ran six plays, getting a first down on a 1-yard run by Martin Scales. That set up a ball at the 12-yard line for Journell. London, who had saved two timeouts for the end of the game, called both to try and ice the Giles product, whose leg may already been close to frozen.
Yet, he wasn’t going to miss this kick.
“I think determination is probably the biggest thing,” Journell said. “Being tied up and having a chance to put us up 3 and not really capitalizing on it and coming off the field and having everybody have my back. I just wanted to go out there and do it for the seniors.”
Steve Greer led Virginia with 19 tackles, while LaRoy Reynolds added 15, including 3 1⁄2 stops for loss. Detrick Bonner, who paced the Hokies with 10 tackles, joined Beamer in being excited about the chance to play one more game to be determined in the next week.
“This bowl week, I feel like we will have time to prepare well and time to have that complete game that we are looking for as a group,” Bonner said. “We can all play well as a group and come together.”
“I am really proud of our football team,” added Beamer. “The way this season has gone, there has been some tough losses. This team has never stopped playing hard and never stopped trusting each other.”
— Contact Brian Woodson at
Virginia................0 7 7 0 — 14
Virginia Tech.......0 7 7 3 — 17
VT—Dunn 7 pass from Thomas (Journell kick), 10:30.
UVa—Ti.Smith 42 pass from Rocco (Jarrett kick), 3:30.
UVa—Urban 16 fumble return (Jarrett kick), 10:55.
VT—Thomas 4 run (Journell kick), 1:25.
VT—FG Journell 29, :00.
First downs 7 23
Rushes-yards 20-30 57-174
Passing 187 129
Comp-Att-Int 17-36-1 18-38-0
Return Yards 26 12
Punts-Avg. 9-38.7 9-39.1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 4-23 1-5
Time of Possession 22:30 37:30
RUSHING—Virginia, Parks 8-21, P.Jones 7-18, Hodges 1-6, Richardson 2-1, Rocco 2-(minus 16). Virginia Tech, Thomas 29-89, Scales 10-37, Coleman 13-36, Gouveia-Winslow 1-8, Knowles 2-3, Gregory 2-1.
PASSING—Virginia, Rocco 14-29-1-177, P.Sims 3-7-0-10. Virginia Tech, Thomas 18-38-0-129.
RECEIVING—Virginia, Ti.Smith 4-79, Terrell 3-27, Jennings 3-23, P.Jones 3-18, Richardson 1-20, Freedman 1-8, McGee 1-8, Parks 1-4. Virginia Tech, M.Davis 4-33, Knowles 4-33, C.Fuller 3-26, Roberts 3-17, Scales 2-8, Dunn 1-7, Malleck 1-5.