CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — All week long, the chatter about Virginia being on the rise left out an important fact in the mind of Virginia Tech’s players: They were still the best in the commonwealth until proven otherwise.
The No. 6 Hokies showed they were tops Saturday night, blanking the No. 24 Cavaliers 38-0, their first shutout loss at home in 172 games – since a 55-0 defeat to Clemson on Sept. 8, 1984.
“The guys definitely took it as a slap in the face. It’s kind of been our way, the rivalry, for the past couple years and nobody was talking about us,” Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas said after throwing for two touchdowns and running for another. “They were all talking about Virginia and how good Virginia was going to play against us and how they were going to do.”
David Wilson added two second-half touchdown runs for the Hokies, who led 14-0 at the break and drove 79 yards with the opening series of the third quarter, and then let their defense do the rest.
Virginia, which came in averaging better than 177 rushing yards, finished with 30 on 26 carries.
“I felt like we didn’t receive any respect in our home state after all we’ve done, and we went out there and made a statement,” defensive end James Gayle said after registering two of the sacks.
“We weren’t getting respect, so we went out there and took it.”
And the Hokies (11-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned the league’s Coastal Division title and a rematch with No. 18 Clemson in next weekend’s ACC championship game in Charlotte. They suffered their only loss, 23-3 against the Tigers on Oct. 1, and were eager for a rematch.
“Everybody wants it,” Thomas said. “We know that we didn’t play our best ball that day.”
Nope, they saved that for their state rivals, and beat them for the eighth time in a row and 12th time in the last 13 meetings. They will be seeking their fourth league championship in five years.
The Cavaliers (8-4, 5-3) had won four straight and seemed ready to finally challenge their state rival, but without a running game, Michael Rocco was under steady pressure.
“We just couldn’t finish,”Rocco said. “We got down to the red zone a bunch of times, but it was just little things. … It hurts. It doesn’t feel good.”