Cedric Peerman rushed for 118 bruising yards, including the winning touchdown with 31/2 minutes left, and Virginia won its fourth in a row with a 24-17 upset of No. 21 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Bouncing back from an early 14-3 deficit, the Cavaliers took over the top spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division -- a scenario no one could have envisioned during a miserable September. Virginia lost three of its first four games by an average of 36 points.
"This is a team that never cracks," quarterback Marc Verica said. "It shows the kind of resolve this team has, coming back from being down two touchdowns on the road."
Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2 ACC) was off to its best start since 1990 and looked unstoppable on its first two possessions, scoring a pair of touchdowns. But the Cavaliers (5-3, 3-1) figured out the spread option offense, keeping the Yellow Jackets out of the end zone the rest of the way.
"I'm really disappointed," said Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech's first-year coach. "We made enough mistakes in about every area to lose the game twice over."
After Scott Blair kicked a 39-yard field goal to tie the game at 17, Virginia drove 70 yards in eight plays. Peerman got loose on a 31-yard run and finished it off with a 3-yard touchdown, lunging for the pylon with 3:29 left to end Tech's four-game win streak.
Virginia punted only once, outgained the Yellow Jackets 396-259 in total yards and finished with a big lead in time of possession (34:18 to 25:42), quite a feat against a run-focused offense. The Cavaliers converted 11-of-18 times on third down.
Could this possibly be the same group that lost to Southern Cal 52-7, Connecticut 45-10 and Duke 31-3?
Peerman certainly did his part, breaking numerous tackles and sending more than one defender flying when it's usually the other way around.